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Work-Based Learning


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For a higher resolution copy of the Work-Based Learning continuum graphic, contact Kristy Volesky at

Work-based learning includes a continuum of structured activities utilizing the partnership between industry and education to engage student learning. Through experiences with industry professionals, participants are able to foster first-hand engagement with in-depth application of academic, technical and professional skills to the tasks required of a given career field while meeting specific learning objectives. Work-based learning is a progression through awareness, exploration, preparation and training to support student learning for future success.

Essential Elements of Work-Based Learning

  1. Academic Preparation
  2. Partnership Between Education and Industry
  3. Academic Follow-up

Work-Based Learning at Schools

Getting Started with Work-Based Learning

  1. Maximize student Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) in your district.
  2. Connect with your Intermediary for work-based learning activities in your region.
    1. Take advantage of the free, on-demand career videos to enhance classroom learning. All of the career videos are connected to career and technical education standards.
  3. Consider who will coordinate work-based learning activities at your school.
  4. Connect your teachers to authentic projects through the Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning.
  5. Review the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide
  6. Start an apprenticeship program at your school
    1. Registered Apprenticeship Playbook - A guide to understanding the different components of apprenticeship programs.
    2. Earn and Learn Iowa Website - Provides information on how to start an apprenticeship program.

High School Internships

Internships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to develop career and professional skills with an industry partner in a workplace setting.

Iowa Internship Toolkit - Highlights key components of a high-quality internship program to prepare students for success in postsecondary education, training and careers.

High School Internship Guidance - Provides information on designing various types of internship opportunities and support for students participating in internships.

Operational Sharing for Work-Based Learning Coordinators - Defines school district use of operational sharing for work-based learning coordinators under chapter 97. 

Sample Training Plan - A template that can be used as an evaluation tool for an internship program.

Sample Training Agreement - An example of a contract to be signed before a student participates in an internship.

Multioccupations Endorsement - An endorsement designed for those who supervise students in on-the-job situations such as cooperative education programs and school-to-work programs.

Iowa Work-Based Learning Endorsements - Details of the multioccupations coordinator and work experience coordinator endorsement certifications.

Formal Opinion - Iowa Code 92.9 - This is the formal opinion from the Department about Iowa Code 92.9. Please note page two, paragraph three, "In order to properly oversee student progress and award credit, the district instructor must evaluate student progress at the worksite quarterly with additional visits as needed. Please direct questions to Thomas Mayes, General Counsel for the Iowa Department of Education.

Work-Based Learning at Community Colleges

Iowa’s 15 community college districts, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and Future Ready Iowa, are focused on increasing Work-Based Learning opportunities for students and employers, regardless of industry, size and geographic location to meet Iowa’s workforce needs.

Community colleges offer many work-based learning experiences within the curriculum, offering internships, practicums and career exploration. Transfer majors are also being built between the community colleges and universities with related work experiences in mind. Guidance for developing work-based learning within the curriculum is available within the following resources.

Iowa Community College Work-based Learning State Initiative

Iowa Community College Work-based Learning Implementation Guide

CIP Crosswalk for WBL Programs

Marketing Documents for Iowa Community College Work-Based Learning Opportunity

Work-Based Learning Coordinator Newsletter

The Work-Based Learning Coordinator Newsletter is sent out every other month providing timely updates, resources and professional learning opportunities to work-based learning coordinators and those who support them.

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Work-Based Learning Toolkits - Provides guidance, tools and recommendations to address barriers to increasing opportunities for high school students, while also providing a wide range of real-world examples from across the state that can be modeled and replicated within local communities.

Sectors of Opportunity - Iowa Career Pathway Mapping Projects - Opportunity documents have been created for information technology, energy and utilities, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, building and trades, and transportation, distribution and logistics.

Business Education Alliance Work-based Learning Schematic - Overview of work-based learning opportunities and resources in Iowa.

Iowa Intermediary Network - Bridges education and industry to curate exceptional work-based learning opportunities to support student career awareness and exploration with a focus on the great careers in Iowa.

School-Based Enterprises

Virtual Workshop Recordings

Professional Organizations

Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators - Connect, collaborate and share ideas with other work-based learning coordinators in Iowa.

Association of Career and Technical Education - Provides education leadership in developing a competitive workforce by empowering educators to deliver high-quality career and technical education programs that ensure students are positioned for career success. The website features a Work-Based Learning section.


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on August 18, 2022 at 10:04am.