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Work-Based Learning

Education through work-based learning programs, which contributes to both the intellectual and career development of high school students, is gaining acceptance by policymakers and educators as a means to improve the educational outcomes for many students. This increased acceptance or work-based learning programs coordinated by the local education institution has been brought about by changes in the United States and world economies, the American educational system, and the increased focus on the importance of preparing students for the world of work. The intent of preparing students for work is not to take away from academic excellence, but instead, to integrate academic and occupational curriculum to connect school and work. Students should be given every opportunity to receive academic and occupational preparation that equips them with the necessary skills for obtaining employment and/or entering postsecondary education. 

As defined by the research and literature, a work-based learning program must include a school- based learning component (classroom instruction in both academic and occupational areas), a work-based learning component (structured work), and a connecting activity component (career development activities). A work-based learning program must include:

  • Work experience opportunities for students, either paid or non-paid.
  • Job training and work experiences coordinated with both academic and occupational learning in school-based programs that are relevant to students' program of study choices and lead to the award of a secondary diploma and entrance criteria to a postsecondary institution.
  • Workplace supervision.
  • Instruction and activities in academic and occupational workplace competencies, including positive work attitudes, employability, and practical skills.
  • Broad instruction, to the extent practicable, in all aspects of the industry.

Work-Based Learning (WBL) placements represent the peak of the Career-Related Education experience. To qualify for a WBL, a student must be in grades 11 or 12 and at least 16 years old. Students must also have a defined Career Pathway in order to participate in the Work-Based component of Career-Related Education. This is especially important for successful completion of a student's pathway in that their job placement is directly related to the curriculum of the Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) classes they have completed or in which they are concurrently enrolled. There are several opportunities for students to participate in a work-based learning.


Components of Work-Based Learning

  1. Employability Skill Development (ESD) - ESD students can work for up to one school year at a work-site which may or may not be linked to a specific career pathway. Unlike other forms of Work-Based Learning, ESD students may be involved in work activities that have only an indirect relationship to previous or current classroom studies. This placement opportunity exists in recognition of the fact that almost everyone at some point must experience entry-level work and begin to understand the culture of the workplace. Training plans for ESD students concentrate heavily on the skills and knowledge identified as being important to success on the job. An ESD placement lacks the curricular connection evident in other placements such as Cooperative Education, Internships or Youth apprenticeship because there is no current or completed CTAE coursework that aligns with the placement.
  2. Cooperative Education - Students participate in a structured program that connects school-based occupational instruction and related paid work-site experiences. These educational experiences provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum with an occupational specialty. Co-op students are guided by a formal, written training plan that defines specific academic and workplace skills to be mastered. Students must be concurrently enrolled in a course directly related to the job placement.
  3. Internship/Practicum - An internship or practicum (synonymous terms used for two similar models) can take two different forms. The first is a one-time, short-term placement which lasts any amount of time less than what would be required to earn 1/2 or more units of credit, typically one to six weeks. An effective Internship experience should run for at least 10 hours and no more than 120 hours per semester. The second, more involved internship may last for as long as one year. It should involve the equivalent number of hours that the student would have spent in class in order to qualify for course credit.
  4. Apprenticeship Program (YAP) - The central objective of the YAP can be characterized as preparing every student for a high-skill occupation; and providing Georgia with a pool of highly trained, technologically sophisticated young workers. Student apprentices in the program are required to have a detailed training plan with the employer identifying specific work tasks that will develop workplace competencies and an opportunity to obtain a minimum of 720 hours of on-the-job training. The employer also provides workplace mentoring and instruction in general workplace competencies including all aspects of the industry. 

    Under Georgia Code Section 20-2-161.2, the Georgia Department of Education was authorized to establish Youth Apprenticeship programs with the stated goal of implementing comprehensive programs in all school systems by fiscal year 1996. Working in conjunction with the Department of Labor and the Department of technical and Adult Education, the Department of Education has developed standards and procedures necessary to implement the programs. Essential components of Georgia's Youth Apprenticeship program are: (a) A partnership structure encompassing schools, postsecondary institutions, employers, labor organizations, and community representatives; (b) The resulting award of a portable, industry-recognized skill certificate for participating students; (c) Integration of work-based and school-based learning; 

    Great Promise Partnership (GPP) - GPP is affiliated with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Workforce Division (formerly the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development). The program works with youth that are at risk of not graduating from high school, with the promise that if they will continue their education, we will support their efforts and help them prepare for further education, military service or the workforce after graduation. Great Promise Partnership™ is a program that emphasizes real-world skills, mentoring and goal setting. It allows teens 16 and older to spend part of the day at school and part of the day at the job site. There, they benefit from on-the-job training at real entry-level jobs, mentoring, life and career skill sessions and service learning projects. Students may also earn pay raises based on job and academic performance, attendance and behavior.
  5. Clinical Experiences - Clinical experiences are possible in many CTAE program areas but are offered almost exclusively as part of the Healthcare Science program. The differentiation between a work-based learning placement and a clinical experience is based on where the credit is awarded to the student. A student participating in a clinical experience is enrolled in the Healthcare class and the experience is a class activity. Conversely, a student enrolled in a Healthcare internship is enrolled in a work-based learning course number not a school-based Healthcare class. Clinical experiences are also different from other structured work-based learning programs as they require on-site supervision at all times by a certified teacher, school-based personnel with a medical degree (e.g. R.N. or MSW), or a related Work-Based instructor with these same qualifications. The amount of time to be spent and areas of experiences (clinical rotations) are also generally stipulated. Clinical experiences are correlated with the academic and occupational curriculum, and provides students with opportunities, which are considered an extension of the curricula and are, in most instances, non-paid experiences for the students.

Students in the Work-Based Learning program must be placed on a related job,have periodic evaluation and have on-going guidance. While most students complete three courses related to a pathway prior to entering the program, all students must earn a minimum of one unit of credit before placement on the job site.

  All students are expected to excel in these three areas:

    • Academic Performance
    • School and Workplace Behavior
    • Job Performance

For more information about Work-Based Learning (WBL) or the Youth Apprenticeship Program (YAP) 
Please contact Greg Guhl via office: (770) 473-2700 Ext. 700166 or email:

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