In celebration of CTE Month and National Job Shadow Day, February is a time when many schools conduct job shadow days and promote work-based learning opportunities.
Throughout the year over 150,000 students participate in fantastic work-based learning opportunities through the Career and Technical Education Work-Based Learning program. Students who participate in a job shadow and/or internship, while in middle/junior high or high school, develop an understanding of how classroom learning is applied to the world of work.
There are many ways for students to learn. Students can learn in the classroom or learn in a real work setting. Learning becomes even more meaningful when it is demonstrated in a real work setting.
Not only do students have the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning experiences in an actual work environment, but students learn the importance of having essential soft skills, such as:
- Time management
- communication Leadership
- Following directions
So, why do schools provide work-based learning opportunities for students? The answer is simple. In order for students to succeed, we need to prepare them for the ever-changing world of work, which means not only college readiness, but career readiness. Students with the real work experience that is the foundation of work-based learning will be better prepared to participate in the global economy.
In schools throughout Utah we see the benefits of work-based learning activities. These activities make students aware of the career options that are available to them. It’s a great way for students to begin exploring options and to find those careers that they may be interesting in pursuing.
Work-based learning offers a unique opportunity to engage students in an enormous variety of subjects, incorporating academic, creative and technical skills. As a part of Career and Technical Education, work-based learning offers the best preparation to students for life after high school.
Education Week recently highlighted the renewed emphasis on work-based learning in college and career ready initiatives. In an article titled Internships Help Students Prepare for Workplace the author talks about how students are so focused on academics that they pass up work-based learning opportunities. It is up to educators to provide students with the essential information to help them understand the importance of a work-based learning experience.
Encourage each of your students to participate in a job shadow and/or internship. Share with them the experiences of former students who benefited from participation in work-based learning experience. Assist them in taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity!
Mary Shumway is the Director of Career and Technical Education at the Utah State Office of Education. You may reach her via email at or by calling 801-538-7500. Learn more about Career and Technical Education on the UtahCTE.org website. This is a cross-post from the CTE Directions newsletter.