The Colorado Roadmap to Work-Based Learning

Who can use the Roadmap?


We encourage business leaders to partner with schools/school districts in Colorado to create work-based learning opportunities.

Use this guide to:

  • strengthen and expand your talent pipeline by increasing student awareness of career opportunities
  • support educators to bring relevant problems and projects into the classroom and push students’ thinking
  • learn about existing models and partnerships in your region


We support agile educators who are dedicated to adapting to the diverse needs of today’s students.

Use this guide to: 

  • help students develop the Essential Skills that will prepare them for success in any opportunity pathway
  • allow students to explore passions and discover careers in Colorado and bring real-world projects into the classroom
  • jump-start career paths for students while they are still in the K-12 system


Organizations play a key role in improving and creating new conditions for students to thrive.
Use this guide to: 
  • learn about existing coalitions and find contact information for work-based learning coordinators  
  • share additional resources/guides for developing a program or work-based learning projects 
  • learn about Colorado’s laws and legal guidelines for work-based learning

Agile learners, educators and systems are responsive to changes in the economy and society​

Aglie Learners
Agile learners learn how to learn, not just what to learn. They develop transferable competencies that will prepare them for an uncertain future and at the same time are committed to lifelong learning and development.
Agile Educators
Agile educators understand and adapt to rapid change in the economy and translate it back to programs and curricula. They create relevant educational experiences that help students learn about themselves and the world. They equip students to make choices about what and how they learn.
Agile Systems
Agile systems allow for the emergence of various types of learning experiences and educational opportunities that respond to diverse needs and interests of learners, as well as changes in the economy and in society.

The Career-Connected Learning Continuum prepares agile learners for these changes

Self-Identity and Career Awareness

Help students across diverse backgrounds develop awareness of their strengths, interests, and values, as well as career and training opportunities.

  • Preference questionnaires
  • Aptitude surveys
  • Career fairs and presentations
  • Classroom Speakers
  • Virtual Career Fairs
  • Virtual Classroom Speakers
  • Problem-based Learning Collaboration via video conferencing
  • Virtual Open House
  • Career Fairs – Large group joins video conferencing that includes employers and students. Break out into separate online conference rooms by employer and send students through each room in small groups. Work with employers to create brief interactive ways to share about careers in their field.  Employers repeat. 3-4 times to get all students through.
  • Problem-based learning collaboration through online conferencing systems. Educators can work ahead of time with industry partners to plan the conversation and outline the problem and supports for students. Launch the conversation in whole group through video conferencing and then have smaller breakout rooms/conversation with the industry partner’s feedback directly with students.
  • Companies can host virtual open houses where they open a video conference, google hangout or FaceTime on a cell phone. The group of students join virtually, and then the host welcomes them and tours around to a pre-arranged sequence of places to talk with a pre-arranged set of individuals from the company. These could be recorded for future students to access.  Storyvine or other video editing tools could be used to standardize the length and format of these.
  • Career fairs
  • Classroom/event speakers
  • Problem-based learning collaboration
  • Open house for students and families
  • Visibility with customers in community (students/parents)
  • Test products or ideas
  • Gain problem-solving insights from different vantage point (students)

Educational and Career Pathways Exploration

Provide students with more in-depth learning of their strengths, interests, and values as well as careers, and training, often through interaction with professionals or in a work environment.

  • Mentoring
  • Job shadowing
  • Worksite tours
  • Capstones
  • Mentoring via phone or video conference
  • Job shadowing via Storyvine or video conference
  • Virtual worksite tours
  • Capstones via video conferencing
  • Mentoring – Via phone call, facetime or video conference.  Given the ease of technology, there may be a larger number of professionals willing and able to mentor students when the engagement becomes more time efficient.
  • Job Shadowing – A professional can be given a story vine prompt and respond to it in their workplace if possible so they can still illustrate some aspects of the work environment or a professional could invite a young person to “come along” via facetime or zoom to a few experiences that illustrate common aspects of their  role – these could be 2-4 ,20-minute visits over a week. 
  • Virtual Worksite Tours – Companies can host virtual worksite tours where they open a zoom or facetime on a phone.  The group of students join virtually, and then the host welcomes them and tours around to a pre-arranged sequence of places to talk with a pre-arranged set of individuals from the company.  These could be recorded for future students to access.  Storyvine could be used to standardize the length and format of these. 
  • Capstones – Presentations can still be performed virtually in front of a panel of experts from industry and community. Many schools have already started experimenting with this method and found this setup  made it easier for a larger number of professionals to participate. Professionals can still act as expert reviewers to projects done in class.  They just need to be connected virtually to review work and ask questions and give feedback.
  • Interest and/or aptitude surveys can be taken online, counselors can review with learners on video calls – and may find that it is easier to involve family members in the virtual  conversation
  • Periodic or Remote Mentoring
  • Quarterly job shadowing days
  • Quarterly worksite tours
  • Annual graduate capstone project panel
  • Expert project reviewer
  • Visibility with customers
  • Morale building for team members
  • Low stakes leadership opportunity for new leaders
  • Talent scouting for future employees

Essential and Technical Skills Development

Develop relevant skills and provide necessary credentials and social capital tied to workforce demands and opportunities.

  • K-12 institutions (CTE programming)
  • Traditional higher education
  • Bootcamps
  • Technical colleges
  • Virtual ongoing mentorship with industry experts
  • Small group coaching
  • Social distanced internships
  • Virtual Mentorship – Professionals can still act as ongoing technical partner to academic or tech class if the teacher has an efficient way of connecting with the industry professional to share plans, get feedback on authenticity, and prepare the industry professional for the role they will play ongoing through whatever mode of video call or webinar works best.
  • Small Group Coaching – If small groups of students are able to gather per CDC and state guidance,, it will be possible for industry professionals to mentor STEM competition teams from a distance.  This may even increase the range of experts you can connect with. Consider NEPRIS as a tool to connect with a range of experts. 
  • Internships – For some work environments, social distancing will be safe and in-person shorter (4-6 weeks) internships focusing on essential skill development will be feasible.  For other environments, students can do work virtually, just like employees working  virtually. Ask about people working remotely that may be able to take on a short-term intern.  Also be flexible about how much time and in what structure this might occur. 
  • Ongoing technical partner to academic or tech class
  • Mentor STEM competition teams
  • Shorter (4-6 weeks) internships w/essential skills development
  • Visibility with customers
  • Test products or ideas
  • Gain problem-solving insights
  • Morale building
  • Low stakes management/supervision opportunity for new managers
  • Talent scouting

Career Entry and Progression

Provide students with opportunities to gain actual work experience that supports development of job skills and offers a clear path to sustainable career.

  • Apprenticeships
  • Internships
  • Virtual internships or apprenticeships
  • Virtual – With some exceptions, these will be the most challenging experiences to continue through distance learning.  Where there are already deep partnerships between the K-12 district and the industry partner, or where there are already deep relationships between an employer and a student – these appear to be easier to keep going.  Many employers are laying off or reducing compensation for their workers – this may make paid work for a young person less feasible.  There may be new opportunities for these kinds of experiences as employers struggle to find talent for new roles, or roles for which their unemployed staff took other positions.  It is important to keep asking about these kinds of experiences.  It is also important to get to know your students and their growing professional competencies well, so you can help employers see the many different ways your students could contribute to their recovery. 
  • Apprenticeships
  • Long term internships (semester +)
  • Sustained after-school/summer employment
  • Bring a new perspective or digital native skill to team
  • Low stakes management/supervision opportunity for new managers
  • Talent scouting