Community of Practice on Work-Based Learning

Colorado Succeeds has wrapped up its first year of the Community of Practice around Work-Based Learning! If the first few conversations are any indication, we are just getting started.

The Community of Practice arose from a problem. There is no single place where companies and talent professionals can discuss best practices around an emerging business strategy – engaging in the continuum of career-connected learning with education partners to build equitable talent pipelines from their local communities. Often, businesses begin to engage in work-based learning by hearing how a peer company has approached/structured their work-based learning program.

Colorado Succeeds, working with the Colorado business community and our most innovative education leaders, is in a unique position to connect these dots. Through the Community of Practice, we brought together over 15 member companies and 30 participants across a variety of industries to discuss the career-connected learning continuum an exclusive, all-business environment. Some of the common themes and outcomes we heard:

  • Companies just starting out with work-based learning programs are eager to learn from others around the best way to structure programs inside their companies. How do you staff it? What business unit absorbs this in their budget? How do you determine what occupations you target?
  • Businesses discussed how to best “sell” the idea of work-based learning inside their company, including winning strategies that have been replicated in several industries.
  • Experienced and new companies debated the pros and cons of partnering with certain types of educational partners and sourcing student participants. Best practices around wrap-around supports to ensure student retention were also discussed.
  • Participants provided constructive feedback to AdvanceEDU, a new hybrid college provider, on their workforce solution for Denver-area companies. A common theme we heard from education partners is the need to get critical feedback from employers before launching their work-based learning programs to ensure market fit.

So, now that we have work-based learning operators exchanged best practices, what are we going to do in 2022? We plan to build on the success of our initial cohort in five key ways:

  1. We plan to convene our member companies and innovative training providers (think community colleges and credential providers) to foster greater conversations on how to increase talent pipeline collaborations both within industries and between industry and postsecondary institutions, similar to how best-in-class countries like Switzerland collaborate.
  2. We aim to host one site visit at a company’s work-based learning program to allow for new to work-based learning businesses to experience the strategy first-hand.
  3. We will explore what barriers can be removed to increase business participation in career-connected learning. What are the policy and practical considerations that can be solved with legislation or sharing of best practices?
  4. We’re going to include more industries not already at the table and education providers for more critical feedback.
  5. We are grateful to have Orica sponsoring the Community of Practice on Work-Based Learning, which will enable us to sustain and scale our efforts with more companies getting involved in the work.

Thank you to all the companies involved!

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