Work-Based Learning Programmatic


Work-based learning is an educational strategy that combines classroom and real-life work experiences. People gain knowledge, skills, and experience needed to enter a job or advance. “Earn-and-learn” strategies such as apprenticeship and on-the-job training are examples of work-based learning. Under these models, individuals earn a paycheck while mastering skills and gaining practical experience.

Healthcare has a long history of using work-based learning models, such as physician residency programs and clinical rotations for nursing. These well-known models can be adapted for other allied health occupations, such as medical assistant, surgical technician, or patient care technician.


In an environment where the demand for certain occupations exceeds the supply of qualified candidates, work-based learning offers a solution. People gain the skills and knowledge needed to qualify for a job and advance in their careers. Employers gain a qualified workforce.

While work-based learning models vary, successful programs share some common characteristics.

  • Employer-driven development: Employers drive the program, from defining the skills and knowledge needed, to selecting internal and external partners to plan and implement the program.
  • Aligned classroom and workplace learning: Successful programs ensure that classroom knowledge is complemented and reinforced by on-the-job, workplace activities.
  • Wage progression: Employees receive progressive wage increases as skills increase.
  • Support systems: Support services, including mentoring, coaching, tutoring, and help with personal barriers increase retention and ensure more students complete the learning program.
  • Collaboration: Employers engage with internal and external partners to collaborate on design, implementation, recruitment, and retention.

Critical Steps for Implementation

  • Use workforce data analytics: Use data to determine which positions are hard to fill, have high turnover, etc. Is there a high enough volume of open positions that would lend itself to an investment in work-based-learning?
  • Determine infrastructure needs: Consider the need and availability of space, staffing, computers, and other equipment to implement a program.
  • Create partnerships: Collaborate with targeted internal departments and external education and training institutions to plan and implement a program.
  • Develop program components: Be sure to include hands-on learning activities and aligned classroom instruction.
  • Recruit participants: Define the target population (e.g., new or incumbent employees) and develop a targeted recruitment plan.
  • Implement training programs: Ensure that all partners are aligned and clear about roles and responsibilities.
  • Deploy support services: Coaching and other support services promote retention and increase students’ ability to succeed.
  • Evaluate and evolve: Establish baseline metrics and data collection and reporting methods. Incorporate participants’ feedback and lessons learned to increase program effectiveness.


Making Work-based Learning Work, Jobs for the Future, 2016.

A guide to the design and implementation of effective models of work-based learning.

Work-Based Learning Tool Kit, National Center for Innovation in Career Technical and Education, 2017.

A tool kit that provides state and local program administrators with guidelines and resources related to creating a state WBL strategy, engaging employers, collecting data, and scaling effective programs.

Promising Trends and Challenges in Work-Based Learning: A Market Scan of Organizations and Tools, Jobs For the Future.

Website reviews and describes a myriad of tools, trends, and platforms in work-based learning.

A Quick-Start Toolkit: Building Registered Apprenticeship Programs, U.S. Department of Labor.

This toolkit provides helpful steps and resources to start and register an apprenticeship program.

Definition and Principles for Expanding Quality Apprenticeship in the U.S., Apprenticeship Forward Collaborative.

A definition and principles for quality apprenticeships for both industry-recognized and registered programs.

Apprenticeship in Healthcare, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

This webpage offers tools, program examples, and other resources that can be used to help expand apprenticeship in the healthcare sector.

A Toolkit for Registered Apprenticeship in Healthcare, Healthcare Career Advancement Program.

A guide to the implementation of registered apprenticeship as a workforce solution for the healthcare industry.

Apprenticeship Employer Readiness Checklist, National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

A list of questions to help employers successfully implement an apprenticeship program.

Managing the HIM Talent Pipeline Registered Apprenticeship Programs, American Health Information Management Association Foundation.

A webinar deck that outlines the steps to building an apprenticeship program in health information occupations.

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