Hearing the Student Voice – Why Work-Based Learning Matters

Dequan Wilkins poses with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Johan Uvin and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins poses with OCTAE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Johan Uvin, and his mentors, Natasha Muhammad and Stephanie Amponsah, from the Baltimore-based Urban Alliance.

Dequan Wilkins, graduate of Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology in Baltimore, Maryland, provided opening remarks for the U.S. Department of Education’s Strengthening Work-Based Learning in Education and Transition to Careers Workshop, co-hosted with the Organisation for Co-operative Economic Development (OECD) in Baltimore, Maryland, from July 26-27, 2016.  As a child and young adult growing up in Baltimore’s foster care system, Dequan recounted his “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to obtain an internship at the Episcopal Community Services of Maryland (ECSM) Culinary Arts program and how this work-based learning experience transformed his pathway from school to work.  He connected with a workplace mentor, learned the requisite technical and employability skills, obtained an industry-recognized certification (ServSafe), and was ultimately hired as a Sous Chef.  Dequan is passionate about culinary arts and is looking forward to creating his own bakery.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by Director John Ladd, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Maalik Groves, Shanelle Lockhart, Chloe Starcher, and Dequan Wilkins served as panelists for Youth Voices session moderated by John Ladd, Administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

Three other students—Maalik Groves and Shanelle Lockhart from the Urban Technology Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chloe Starcher, an apprentice at Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) 24 in Baltimore, Maryland—provided similar stories of how work-based learning, as part of their career and technical education programs, enabled them to connect their academic and technical learning and test out their career interests in real life work settings.  Each told of the importance of a caring adult who mentored them, guided them, and helped them master critical employability skills that would help them navigate and excel in the world of work.

These student stories set a perfect context for the two-day meeting that featured international policies and practices for developing and scaling up work-based learning opportunities in the U.S. and abroad.  The full agenda, discussion papers, and speaker bios are available for review at sites.ed.gov/OCTAE/WBL2016.  A U.S. report on work-based learning will be available early Winter 2016 and an international report on work-based learning will be available in 2017.  Stay tuned to the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network (PCRN) at cte.ed.gov for these reports.

Posted by
Robin A. Utz, Branch Chief College and Career Transitions, Division of Academic and Technical Education (DATE)
Posted by
Director, Division of Academic and Technical Education