Expanding Work-Based Learning Experiences In The Region
Colleges Expand Work-Based Learning to Prepare Students to Succeed Academically and Thrive in their Future Careers
Strong Workforce Program (SWP) implementation efforts are moving forward through the SWP workgroups,* each of which makes decisions about planning and promising practices related to a specific aspect of SWP. The Work-Based Learning (WBL) and Job Placement workgroup is tasked with facilitating the implementation of WBL and job placement functions that will provide all students with a continuum of real-world experiences and support to deepen classroom learning and facilitate employment.
To address its charge, the workgroup established the following four goals:
- Assess work-based learning opportunities currently offered in San Diego and Imperial Counties community colleges.
- Build an infrastructure to support expanded work-based learning opportunities across the region.
- Build an infrastructure to support expanded job placement services across the region.
- Support professional learning in the area of work-based learning to improve the development and integration of high-quality work-based learning into curriculum.
Assessing WBL Opportunities Offered in the Region
Work-based learning offers a continuum of experiences—from career awareness and exploration to career interactions and higher-intensity career training experiences—which support and expand classroom learning and prepare students for jobs in the region.
To identify how WBL is implemented throughout the region and determine the professional development and support needed by staff and faculty, the workgroup surveyed faculty and conducted an inventory of current WBL opportunities offered and students served. The assessment results show opportunity for expansion of WBL at the colleges within both career and general education. Colleges are continuing to collect data to track progress toward the equitable expansion of WBL. The data is also collected as part of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Management Information System (MIS) Data Element SG21 which captures the number of students participating in WBL activities at each college.
In addition, as groundwork for expanding WBL in the region, the workgroup developed a shared understanding of WBL culminating with the creation of an infographic. The WBL Infographic explains the what, why, and how of WBL.
The workgroup also developed a Glossary of Applied and Work-Based Learning Opportunities. The glossary includes definitions for a variety of WBL experiences along the continuum—from career awareness and exploration to career interactions and higher-intensity career training experiences—which support and expand classroom learning and prepare students for jobs in the region. It is organized according to the three levels of WBL categories listed in the California Community Colleges Management Information Systems (MIS) Data Element SG21.
Establishing an Infrastructure for WBL and Job Placement
To build an infrastructure that will support expanded work-based learning opportunities and job placement services in the region, the regional consortium released two Requests for Applications (RFAs) to the colleges. As a result of these RFAs, each of the ten colleges hired WBL Coordinators who work with faculty to support and expand WBL as well as to support students directly. The Job Placement Case Managers support student job placement at each of the colleges. The goal is to establish and institutionalize work-based learning and job placement functions at each college to deepen classroom learning and facilitate transitions to employment, thereby benefiting both students and the regional economy.
A key feature of the regional infrastructure is facilitating learning and collaboration across the colleges. To this end, the Work-Based Learning and Job Placement workgroup members and the Work-Based Learning Coordinator (WBLC) and Job Placement Case Manager (JPCM) from each college participate in Workgroup and have formed a Community of Practice (CoP) meetings. These monthly meetings facilitate the sharing of best practices and mutual support for WBL implementation.
The Regional WBL Summit held on September 20, 2019 provided further opportunity for faculty and staff to share information about how WBL implementation is helping deepen classroom learning and facilitate
Support Professional Learning in WBL
A Work-Based Learning Professional Development Course was created in collaboration with the 10 community colleges in the region in an effort to improve the development and integration of high-quality work-based
learning into curriculum. This online course is hosted by San Diego & Imperial Counties Community Colleges Regional Consortium and is designed to help faculty in the region explore how and why work-based learning is an essential part of a student’s educational experience. Click here to learn more about this course.
WBL in Action
With the understanding that the 10 community colleges in San Diego and Imperial Counties are in the early stages of implementing Work-Based Learning (WBL) as part of the Strong Workforce Program (SWP) initiative, staff from some of the colleges in the region have agreed to generously share with their colleagues stories of their efforts to expand WBL at their campuses and the lessons learned thus far. This Breakthroughs Episode on WBL will continually be updated with new stories and practices from across the region in the coming months.
Work-Based Learning Coordinators at San Diego Mesa College describe the structure of their WBL team and their support approach for faculty and students. Find out more here.
WBL Resources from the SWP Resource Library
Find background research, tools, and promising practices on WBL in the resource library here.
*Each SWP Workgroup includes a mixed representation of roles, involving more than 150 stakeholders from across the 10 colleges, along with K–12, adult education, and industry partners. Each workgroup is focused on a specific component of SWP implementation: Career Pathways, Middle and High School Engagement, Pathway Navigation, Work-Based Learning and Job Placement, Retention, Success, and Support, Employer Engagement.