I’m excited to share Colorado Succeeds’ newest idea to ensure learners have a game-changing educational experience and businesses have the homegrown talent they need to thrive: a Community of Practice around work-based learning. Through this new initiative, business leaders who manage their company’s work-based learning program can share best practices with one other, and leaders aspiring to build quality programs of their own can learn from the experience of some of Colorado’s work-based learning exemplars.
Many of our business members operate apprenticeship and internship programs that go back years, and in some cases, decades. They earn an ROI by providing opportunities for diverse young people interested in their industry to learn the skills and qualifications their business needs for their future workforce. And these young people should not be underestimated – in addition to being willing and able to learn the skills needed to succeed, they bring in passion, insight, and creativity that contributes to bettering the spaces they work in. They are doing so in fields across the spectrum, even those you wouldn’t necessarily think would be possible for young people, like aerospace manufacturing. These businesses offering work-based learning are, in essence, taking action to be producers of talent, not just consumers of it.
We also have many business members who realize the usual talent acquisition model just isn’t cutting it anymore. They want to find new ways to build a strong and diverse team. Jobs are going unfilled. It’s too expensive to lure skilled people to their in-demand positions that require a specific set of skills. These companies are seeing the value of work-based learning and love the idea of giving back to their community in a way that also helps fill a critical business need: talent coming in the door before a competitor even knows about them. But, they just don’t know how to do it and how to gain buy-in from leaders inside their companies.
This knowledge about how to set up effective and ROI-positive work-based learning programs, for the most part, is locked inside companies. The people operating these programs are, unless they take part in certain national conferences, islands of knowledge. There is no mechanism to meet other professionals running these programs, until now.
With Colorado Succeeds’ Community of Practice around Work-Based Learning, we’re bringing together a cohort of businesses who are doing this well, and those aspiring to do the same, so that we can grow this important education and workforce strategy together. Unlike a company’s intellectual property or trade secrets, it counterintuitively benefits companies to share how they operate their program with other companies in their industry and region. The growth of work-based learning helps attract additional resources, attention, and scale benefits to our school system. That growth influences future state policy around work-based learning too.
Through this new Community of Practice, Colorado Succeeds will:
- Gather exemplar work-based learning business members, and aspiring ones, to discuss their best practices around their work-based learning programs. We already have a diverse set of industries and company size (from Fortune 500 to small-and-medium businesses, from aerospace to tech to healthcare) participating.
- Grow this cohort of companies and package up the learnings that come from their interactions to guide business, K-12, and other intermediaries on how to set up effective work-based learning partnerships.
- Offer up business feedback to new work-based learning programs to ensure that as new programs are designed, there is business perspective on how to make these programs sustainable for both business and the student.
We’re excited for the impact this new opportunity will have for business, for youth, and for Colorado. If you are a Colorado Succeeds member or are interested in learning more about how you can get involved with our Community of Practice, please contact Brad Revare at email@example.com
Brad Revare is the Director of Corporate Development for Colorado Succeeds. Prior to joining the organization, Brad built public-private partnerships with CareerWise Colorado and the Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado, partnering with Colorado businesses, local governments, and K-12 schools across the state.