This is an original article from JFF’s Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning.
What Is Work-Based Learning?
Work-based learning refers to meaningful training that takes place at work, usually under the direction of employer coaches and managers, and has been shown to produce high value for both companies and workers.
In contrast to more hands-off approaches to employee development that involve employees learning on their own, formal work-based learning (WBL) programs include a level of intentionality, focus, and support to ensure that employees can effectively develop the skills they need to take on critical or hard-to-fill roles within the company. The most successful WBL programs include learning plans, competency assessments, coaching, mentoring, formal reviews, and methods of recognizing success.
Why Should Companies Invest in Work-Based Learning?
Effectively administered, WBL programs such as internships and apprenticeships can help
employees become proficient in their roles quickly and efficiently. Moreover, WBL programs help
employers by delivering concrete business benefits.
- Improved Productivity
Employers that are able to bring new hires up to speed quickly have more productive workforces. For large employers that have significant numbers of employees who are new to their roles, improvements in “speed to proficiency” can boost output by as much as 10 to 15 percent. In a study conducted by the Learning and Skills Council, 81 percent of employers that used apprenticeships (one version of WBL) reported increased work output.1
- Fewer Defects
Well-trained employees make fewer mistakes; their employers get fewer customer complaints and don’t have to repeat tasks or engage in expensive compliance remediation efforts. For example, the manufacturer Hypertherm “observed substantial decreases in scrap rates and re-work, helping the company save money in raw product” after launching a work-based learning program in 2007, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education.2
- Increased Innovation
Managers who spend less time correcting the errors of poorly trained employees can spend more time focusing on high-value activities such as customer engagement, product development, and service excellence. And one recent study found that undergraduate students who participated in WBL programs involving both academic studies and workplace training “acquired mindset of innovative thinking and behavior.”3
- Improvements in Employee Engagement
The most effective WBL programs help participants feel supported and successful early in their tenures, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment. According to a 2014 Gallup study, participants in WBL programs have almost twice the level of employee
engagement as workers who haven’t taken part in them.4 When employees have a sense of belonging, retention rates improve, absenteeism declines, and discretionary effort increases. Increased Workplace Diversity and Inclusion We know diverse companies lead to stronger businesses. Work-based learning can help cultivate more diversity in your workforce by providing the structure, support, and training needed for people of many different backgrounds and skill sets to succeed.
- Increased Workplace Diversity and Inclusion
We know diverse companies lead to stronger businesses.5 Work-based learning can help cultivate more diversity in your workforce by providing the structure, support, and training needed for people of many different backgrounds and skill sets to succeed.
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Join IMEC and JFF’s Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning to learn how the tried-and-true apprenticeship training model can be used to attract and develop talent and create a more diverse manufacturing workforce.
Apprenticeship has proved to be an effective means of training and upskilling new hires and incumbent workers in a wide variety of manufacturing occupations, such as machinist, CNC machine operator, manufacturing engineering technician, and many other high-demand roles, so join this webinar and discover how it can work for your company.