The mission of WAI is to promote the involvement of key stakeholders that include students, families, educators, employers and other agencies for the planning and implementation of an array of services. The services are to culminate toward successful student transitioning to employment, lifelong learning and quality of life.
The integration of school-based and work-based learning is identified as a best practice for transition (National Transition Standards, Office of Disability Employment Policy, High School Reform and the newly re-authorized Carl Perkins Career and Technology Act). This incorporates academic and occupational learning and links elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and post secondary education.
The work based learning component include activities that involve actual work-site learning experiences or connecting the classroom learning to work. All community-based placements (paid and unpaid) are in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Key elements of this component include:
Career Awareness Activities: on and/or off-campus activities designed to make students aware of the broad range of careers and/or occupations in the world of work. These activities are typically occasional experiences that may include field trips, guest speakers, career fairs, conducting interviews with employees and/or employers and career research using career information, internet and/or computer information systems.
Career Exploration Activities: activities designed to provide more in-depth exposure to career options for students. They are of longer duration (2 hours to one semester). These activities may include:
Job Shadows: Student follows an employee at a work site to learn about a particular occupation of interest. The activity is designed to assist the student to explore a range of career/occupational choices and to select a career/occupational goal as they advance into the latter part of high school.
School-Based Project/Business: Enterprise in which goods or services are produced by students as part of their school program. Project-Based Learning is a type of school based project that provides an opportunity for students to tackle a “real world” problem and identify potential solutions by applying academic skills, social skills, life skills and problem-solving and creative thinking skills.
Service Learning: Method of instruction that combines community service with a structured school-based opportunity for reflection about that service, emphasizing the connections between service experiences and academic learning. Most programs are balanced between students’ needs to learn and the recipients need for service. Students benefit from acquiring skills and knowledge, and learning civic responsibility.
Career Preparation: Community based activities that provide the opportunity to develop work readiness skills and career-related technical skills. These activities may include:
Internship: Provides students an opportunity to participate in unpaid, work based learning for a specified period of time to learn about a particular industry or occupation. In most internship situations, a workplace mentor instructs the student, critiques the performance, challenges and encourages the student to do well. It is critical to ensure that all aspects of criteria outlined by the FLSA are met to ensure that this experience is a work-based learning experience – not employment.
Apprenticeship: Youth apprenticeship programs are formal, multi-year programs that combine school and work based learning in a specific occupational area or cluster and are designed to lead directly into either a postsecondary program, entry level job or registered apprenticeship program. Most apprenticeship programs are developed in collaboration with the State Apprenticeship Standards Board.
Community Classroom: Method of instruction which utilizes unpaid on-the-job training experiences at business, industry, or public agency sites to assist students in acquiring those competencies needed to acquire entry level employment. The intent of the community classroom experience is to augment classroom instruction that can be extended into the community. It is most typically associated with ROP. It is critical to ensure that all aspects of criteria outlined by the FLSA are met to ensure that this experience is a work-based learning experience – not employment.
Community Based Vocational Instruction: the development of learning experiences in the community through WorkAbility and in compliance with all FLSA requirements for a work-based learning experience.
FLSA Requirements for Unpaid Training:
a comprehensive training plan
activity involving the performance of work
planned, sequential learning occurs, resulting in skills documentation
youth are exposed to all aspects of the industry
placement provides challenging real or simulated tasks
Preparation for the Work Site: Activities that develop awareness of employer requirements in a specific work based learning opportunity, and/or work experience placement in the areas of duties to be performed, appropriate attire, work place rules and other expectations.
Job Search: Curriculum and activities that provide students with the needed skills to find a job such as interview skills, use of a portfolio in job search, where to find job listings, how to make use of resources and networking, and how to contact employers.
Placement Services: WAI staff develop jobs in the community or connect students with other placement opportunities. The typical placement process involves contacting employers, developing training plans, securing a training agreement, arranging schedules, and scheduling the student interview and/or orientation. A training plan includes the following elements:
clear statement of student hours and wages
name of worker’s compensation insurance company
statement of related goals and interests
statement of employment skills addressed in work experience
statement of how performance will be evaluated
designation of a work site supervisor and a school coordinator/supervisor
Employment: Students are productive employees, receiving pay for performing tasks independently. The work experience education component encourages a connection between school and work.
Job Retention: Curriculum and activities that reinforce the skills that a student needs to maintain and/or upgrade a job and the appropriate way to leave a job.
Work Site Mentor: Mentor serves as an advocate and role model for the student. A workplace mentor instructs the student, critiques the performance, challenges and encourages the student to do well and works in consultation with the classroom teacher.
Job Coach: Works in consultation with the classroom teacher to provide direct supervision and training to individuals or groups of students. The coach trains students to perform job tasks independently and advocate for themselves at the work site, assists with mobility training and assists students to develop the personal qualities, communication skills and interpersonal skills required to maintain employment.
Mobility Training: Students may require mobility training to utilize public transportation and/or to cope with a sensory deficit. Another aspect of mobility training is community orientation to learn the community and to travel from various points within the community independently.
Work-Based Follow Along: Routine contact with the student and the work site during the placement to evaluate, trouble-shoot, coach and monitor the implementation of the workplace training plan.
Follow-Up: Contact with the student after graduation for collection of WAI data.
Connecting Activities are programs and services that help link school and work based learning opportunities.
Partnership/Collaboration: cooperative relationships with entities within the school system or in the community that provide students work readiness and life skills and/or assist in their transition from school to life after high school. The following are included: