College of Education

Illinois Center for Transition and Work

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What are work-based learning experiences?

Work-based learning experiences (WBLEs) are one of five required pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS) mandated by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, 2014). WIOA requires that state vocational rehabilitation agencies, in collaboration with schools, provide WBLEs to all students with disabilities who qualify, or could potentially qualify, for vocational rehabilitation services. WBLEs are work experiences that utilize real work in order to teach students job skills in natural settings (Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center, 2016). These hands-on learning experiences help students identify career interests, develop job skills, understand expectations in work environments, and clarify future employment goals. Most WBLEs occur in the community and may include career exploration, job shadowing, service learning, internships, work sampling, apprenticeships, and paid employment. Other WBLEs may occur within the school setting through career technical education courses, on-campus jobs, school-based enterprises, job clubs, and vocational organizations.