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One of the major components, and a valuable opportunity for all students, in the development of our state and national workforce, is the concept of work-based learning. The purpose of this Work-Based Learning information is to provide all educators important and essential directions for implementing work-based learning strategies. This guide has been developed to provide the following:

  • benefits of work-based learning as an instructional strategy
  • identification of some of the legal issues related to work-based learning
  • an overview of the numerous work-based learning opportunities for students
  • identification of the partners and partnerships involved in work-based learning

There are numerous work-based learning opportunities that exist and/or can be developed for students. These include, but are not limited to, apprenticeship, cooperative education, entrepreneurship, field trip, internship, mentorship, school-based enterprise, service learning, and job shadowing. Although there are commonalities among the work-based learning strategies, there are also significant differences. Experiences for students may vary in complexity, length of time, and formality.

Educators are encouraged to research, refine and use the information provided to the ultimate benefit of students as they prepare for the world of work.


Work-based learning experiences often take place at an employer's worksite. This work experience may be paid or unpaid and may last from a few hours to hundreds of hours. The activities are coordinated with school-based activities in an attempt to show students the why of what they are learning. Work-based learning strategies provide awareness, exploration opportunities, and career planning activities to help students reach competencies such as positive work attitude and employability skills. Work-based strategies include:


School Board Policy GCS-I-003 (updated 06/10/2000) (formerly HSP-I-003)
Defines the policy for receiving academic credit for Work-Based Learning.

School Board Policy CGS-M-001 (updated 10/01/2009) (formerly HSA-M-001)
Defines what courses may be counted as credit towards high school graduation. Line 11 reads "Credit may not be awarded for school bus driving, office assistance, teacher assistance, or laboratory assistance." This means that credit earned for work-based learning (internship, cooperative education, apprenticeship) must occur away from the student's school.

North Carolina State Board of Education Policies for Work-based Learning Methods Receiving Academic Credit (June 2000)
(pdf, 1.4mb)

North Carolina's Guide to Work-Based Learning
(pdf, 1.5mb)


Information about youth employment certificates (worker's permit) for underage workers can be found on the North Carolina Department of Labor website.

Child Labor information can be found on the Youth & Labor web page from the US Department of Labor as well as the Youth in the Workplace web page from the US Department of Labor.


Work-based learning experiences must occur away from the student's school.

School-based work experiences are a great way to learn about work. This might include lab techs, office assistants, media assistants, etc. However, one essential aspect of the work-based learning experience is to place the student in a real work setting away from the school. The NC State Board of Education (Board Policy GCS-M-001) requires that work-based learning experiences occur at a location other than the student's school in order to receive course credit.


Work-Based Learner's Personal Goals
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina
(doc, 22kb)

Work-Based Learning Student Application Form
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina
(doc, 46kb)

Notice of Nondiscrimination
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina
(doc, 31kb)

Parent/Guardian Work-Based Learning Sample Permission Form
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education
(doc, 36kb)

Sample Form For Insurance And Emergency Information
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 56kb)

Work-Based Learning Interview Evaluation
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina.
(doc, 38kb)

Sample Training Agreement/Training Plan
Shared from the Nebraska Department of Education.
(doc, 41kb)

Verification of Safety Training
Shared from the Southern Regional Education Board.
(doc, 24kb)

Work-Based Learning Work Experience Log
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina
(doc, 84kb)

Work-Based Learning: Participating Company Evaluation Form
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina.
(doc, 42kb)

Work-Based Learning Parent Evaluation Form
Shared from McHenry County, South Carolina.
(doc, 40kb)

Work-Based Learning - Educational Plan and Progress Report
Shared from the South Carolina Department of Education.
(doc, 56kb)


A very special thanks is extended to the Work-Based Learning Guide committee. They expended considerable effort, time and energy in drafting this material:

  • K. C. Beavers, State Coordinator, High Schools That Work
  • Nancy Raynor, Section Chief, Biotechnology/Health Care
  • Leslie Matthews, Consultant, Family and Consumer Sciences
  • Betty Jo Wimmer, Consultant, Career Development
  • Sherrill Goodman, Consultant, Construction Technology
  • Dian Cooley, Consultant, Middle Grades
  • Douglas Powell, VTE Director, Harnett County Schools
  • Horace Robertson, Reg. Coord., Workforce Development Ed.
  • Bill Price, Consultant, Apprenticeship

Several people deserve recognition for reviewing the guide in its various stages. They offered valuable comments regarding content and format. The committee wishes to recognize the following reviewers:

  • Joanne Anderson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg
  • Laura Russell, North Carolina JobReady
  • Nancy Austin, Dare Co. Schools
  • Christine Sardler, Mt. Airy City Schools
  • Barbara Cave, Surry Co. Schools
  • Karen Setliff, Rockingham Co. Schools
  • Wendy Edney, Henderson Co. Schools
  • Doug Shirley, Duplin Co. Schools
  • Debra Forrrest, Durham Public Schools
  • Lecia Simmons, Catawba Co. Schools
  • Larinda Haight, Sampson Co. Schools
  • Jerry W. Smith, Brunswick Co. Schools
  • David Hayes, Surry Co. Schools
  • Angie Tanner, Northampton Co. Schools
  • Bill Jenkins, Gaston Co. Schools
  • Jean Taylor, Dare Co. Schools
  • Dell Mainor, Sampson Co. Schools
  • Eric Tweed, Montgomery Co. Schools
  • Leslie Martin, Kings Mtn. Schools
  • Linda Williford, Martin Co. Schools
  • Cheryl Robinson, Yancey Co. Schools
  • Frances Wilson, Iredell-Statesville Schools

Appreciation is extended to Dr. Jan Williamson, Language Arts Consultant for time spent in final editing.

A very special thank you is also extended to the many Workforce Development Education administrators for their suggestions.


Business/Industry Field Trip
Cooperative Education
Entrepreneurial Experiences
Job Shadowing
School-Based Enterprise
Service Learning