Learning opportunities that occur in part or in whole at the workplace and provide the learner with hands-on, real world experience.
Work-Based Learning Depends on Strong Partnerships
At its best, work-based learning is a collaborative effort to provide opportunity pathways that are seamless, coordinated, and accessible for learners. This requires strong partnerships across a variety of stakeholders who bring different levels of expertise, capacity, and resources to the table. While robust partnerships across multiple organizations and stakeholders are fantastic, smaller efforts that provide even one student with a unique opportunity to learn and grow are just as valuable. Learn more about the available opportunities by taking the quick quiz below!
Teachers and School Leaders
Educators who lead school career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) are a great place to start. Counselors and school leaders are also great partners to have.
Many (but not all) districts have a Career and Technical Education team or leader. In those that do not, the superintendent would be happy to discuss work-based learning opportunities with a local business or organization (or individual) looking to get involved.
Boards of Cooperative Educational Services are two or more school districts who find it advantageous and cost-effective to cooperate with other districts to share certain student services when they alone cannot afford them. These services represent a financial commitment that is best met by several districts sharing costs and programs. This can be especially applicable to work-based learning, in parts of Colorado where an abundance of business or industry partners may be lacking, or where there are not enough Career and Technical educators in a school or district.
Colorado Community College System (CCCS)
Colorado is fortunate to have a statewide network of community colleges that provide a wide range of preparing learners for a wide range of careers. This includes opportunities for students still enrolled in the K-12 system. The CCCS actively promotes and welcomes partnerships with business, industry, government, and civic agencies, community organizations, and nonprofits.
Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
In addition to the CCCS Colorado has a variety of four-year, two-year, technical colleges, as well as private occupational schools across the state. College in Colorado is a great resource developed by CDHE to support learners in discovering and accessing postsecondary education opportunities.
Regional & Local Centers
In addition to supporting active job seekers in developing skills and acquiring employment, Colorado’s Workforce Centers also have dedicated capacity and resources for supporting work-based learning in their communities.
Chambers of Commerce
Colorado’s local chambers of commerce work hard to be economic drivers of their respective communities. Executive Directors across the state are committing more time and capacity to workforce development and education than ever before, seeking partnerships with schools and educators that provide work-based learning experiences.
Regional and State Coalitions
In rural counties along the western slope, northeastern and southern Colorado coalitions of businesses across a larger region collaborate around common issues and challenges including education and workforce development. There are also nonprofits such as Colorado Succeeds and the Public Education Business Coalition who engage businesses invested in improving the state’s education system.
The state has invested in regional, public-private partnerships targeting key industries that are vital to Colorado’s regional economies. Important work is done throughout the state at these industry-led, public partner supported shared tables–including efforts to increase and improve work-based learning opportunities.
There is a great deal of experience and expertise across the state of Colorado, working collaboratively and independently to provide high-quality experiential learning opportunities for students. As a result, there are numerous resources and sources of information available to support work-based learning.
The Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) is responsible for convening business, education, workforce, and economic development to make sure individuals have access to meaningful careers, and businesses have the employees they need. CWDC has a great deal of experience and expertise with WBL and have created numerous resources to support its expansion.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has a wide range of resources to support schools and districts in planning for work-based learning. CDE convened a community of practice through a WBL incubator to develop experiences and opportunities for learners.
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) recruits and retains great businesses for the state, and has identified key industries, employers, education institutions, and assets.
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) oversees Career and Technical Education (CTE). CCCS has compiled numerous WBL resources and promising practices, including employer engagement guides for educators .
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment provides connections to individuals and businesses setting up work-based learning opportunities, and provides resources and support resources for individuals who face barriers to employment.
The Colorado Department of Higher Education is a tremendous resources for learners and career seekers, providing support in exploring career opportunities, support in planning for life after high-school, as well as efforts to increase the number of credentials earned by Coloradans to address the state’s skills gap.
Regional & Local Partners
Across Colorado there are organizations and individual champions working hard to support the development and expansion of high-quality work-based learning experiences. Explore your region to see what we have learned so far, and let us know who / what else should be included.