The promotion of common projects of schools and business is an important solution for youth unemployment.
Theoretical knowledge provided by schools represent one part of overall knowledge and skills necessary for students to find a job after studies. Including practical training or internship, particularly in VET, students are offered assurance that they will obtain all necessary knowledge and practical skills and abilities for employment at operational and managerial positions.
A literature review by the European Training Foundation provides a comprehensive overview of the evidence on the benefits of WBL for learners, employers and wider society. From the evidence reported, key benefits for learners identified include:
Hard skills, technical expertise and tacit knowledge: Research suggests that technical competencies are seen to be more effectively learnt in the workplace.
Soft skills, other competences and behaviours: Technical skills are not considered enough for success in the labour market as it is softer skills like communication, teamwork and customer relation skills that are often valued. Typically, these are skills developed away from the workplace and are transversal, allowing movement between employers and sectors. Socialisation, motivation and self-esteem: Work based learning can positively affect a learner’s self-esteem and efficacy when they can demonstrate their capacities and problem solve in a work context. It can also give trainees new enthusiasm for learning and self-development. ‘Positively engaging learners in this way creates powerful opportunities to raise the aspirations, confidence and motivation of individuals.
Smoother school-to-work transitions: This can be seen in positive early employment outcomes with evidence to suggest that involvement in the labour market during WBL provides easier transition to work once WBL is complete.
Fostering entrepreneurship: Data from the UK suggests that former apprentices between the ages of 25 and 27 are almost three times more likely to set up their own business.
Impact on wages: This is reported in the case of apprenticeships and shows that in certain contexts WBL can have a positive impact on wages. It should be noted that this is dependent on the prestige of the programme, its competitiveness and level of qualification achieved.
Career Progression: There is evidence that WBL can be important in enhancing a learner’s career progression. It is thought that WBL helps individuals to gain a better understanding of workplace culture and expectations but also to develop good work habits. A US review of research on school-to-work programmes (including WBL) found that students who take part in WBL are better prepared for choosing their future career directions and that working with a mentor was particularly important for career progression.
Evidence suggests that WBL is particularly useful for vulnerable young people and the unemployed because of its ability to engage learners disengaged by traditional classroom based provision.