Work Based Learning

High-quality Work-Based Learning (WBL) is comprised of school-coordinated workplace experiences that are related to students’ career goals and/or interests, are integrated with instruction, and are performed in partnership with local businesses and organizations. WBL experiences enable students to apply classroom instruction in a real-world business or service-oriented work environment. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recognizes 11 high-quality WBL experiences. Work-Based Learning Opportunities in Virginia (Word) gives a summary of the criteria for each WBL experience. 

Virginia’s career and technical education (CTE) programs include the following components:

  • Classroom instruction – the essential component for students to master the academic and technical competencies, attitudes, and work ethic necessary for career success and lifelong learning

  • Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) – organizations that provide experiences that reinforce and strengthen classroom learning and prepare students for individual responsibility, teamwork, and leadership in their chosen career pathways

  • WBL experiences – opportunities for students to apply and refine knowledge, attitudes, and skills through professionally coordinated and supervised work experience directly related to career goals

The WBL experience component builds on the benefits of the other two components by assisting students with the transition from the classroom to the workplace. Students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes are enhanced by participation in supervised, authentic experiences. WBL experiences are valuable because they help students develop careers beyond their secondary and postsecondary education.
























For additional information, visit the Virginia Department of Education High Quality Work-Based Learning webpage.

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 Connecting WBL to Virginia’s 5 C’s  

WBL experiences reinforce Virginia’s 5 C’s—critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creative thinking, and citizenship—by allowing students to apply these skills in a real-world business or service-oriented work environment. 

  • Collaboration: Work with community members, peers, and mentors

  • Communication: Write and present proposals; make requests and get permissions; publicize and present final project

  • Citizenship: Understand laws and regulations; seek to improve the community; increase community awareness

  • Creativity: Publicize/advertise project; solve problems; present findings

  • Critical Thinking: Develop a project to meet a community need or solve a community problem

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Career and Technical Education Work-Based Learning Guide (Word) is based on the redesigned High-Quality Work-Based Learning (WBL) methods of instruction effective July 1, 2020.  This implementation guide focuses on the eleven types of high-quality work-based learning (WBL) methods of instruction used in Virginia; job shadowing, mentorship, service learning, externship, school-based enterprise, internship, entrepreneurship, clinical experience, cooperative education, youth registered apprenticeship, and registered apprenticeship along with opportunities for students to earn one credit toward graduation in addition to any credit earned thorough the associated CTE course in cooperative education, internship, and youth registered apprenticeship for completing 280 hours of work experience and one half credit for 140 hours of work experience in mentorship.  It includes Virginia regulations and guidelines for the administration of WBL and provides training materials for high-quality work-based learning coordinators.  School divisions should use this guide to implement WBL offerings locally.