The inclusion of work as a distinct component of an education program is a key element of a successful vocational education and training (VET) system. This summary explores available literature with the aim of identifying the benefits and challenges associated with work-based education experiences. It also presents a range of best practices for the provision of work-based education.
The benefits of work-based education for students include smoother transitions into ongoing employment and the development of broad occupational skills. Employers benefit from productivity gains through ‘work-ready’ recruits, having current employees up-skilled in the workplace, and the more effective transfer of skills learned in the classroom to work tasks.
The challenges of work-based education for employers relate to costs and resourcing. For training providers, on the other hand, resourcing and coordination of placements are areas identified as problematic. Students are constrained by motivation and access to work-based education opportunities.
- Work-based education can lead to better employment outcomes for students and provide employers with workers who have skill sets relevant to the employer’s industry and workplace gained through structured training.
- The extra resources required to successfully host a student mean that cost is often a barrier to work-based education faced by employers. Targeted financial incentives can assist in addressing this, enabling a wider range of businesses to access students for participation in work-based education programs.
- Communication and coordination are key to quality work-based education in VET. The roles and expectations for all involved should be made clear before training begins, and regular communication between training providers, employers and students is key to successful work-based programs.