Workplaces can be rich learning environments for youth. Even relatively low-skill jobs can teach valuable behaviors and skills such as punctuality, reliability, and dealing with customers. However, making high-quality work-based learning opportunities available to more youth entails intentional design of both learning and work. Just as school-based learning relies on curricula and instruction, work-based learning is enhanced by careful planning, structuring, and sequencing of work experiences to achieve explicit learning goals.
We developed the materials in this section as part of a youth apprenticeship demonstration project (from 1990 to 1995) that attempted to adapt elements of European apprenticeship and test their feasibility and effectiveness in the United States. The apprentices were high school juniors and seniors. They enrolled in one of three occupational areas: manufacturing and engineering technology, health care, or administration and office technology. We defined the occupational areas broadly to assure that apprentices had many career options. We worked with participating schools and firms to define learning objectives and devise a modular structure.
The apprenticeships are more intensive and more formal than other types of work-based learning, such as internships, even though they were not formally registered and did not confer universally recognized credentials upon completion. Most of the materials are adaptable, however, to internships, cooperative education placements, and some even to short-term experiences such as job shadowing.
The products in this section include program tools and research tools, both designed to enhance the quality of workplace learning for youth. These materials may be used and adapted for work-based learning programs by schools, non-profit organizations, and within for-profit companies if full credit is given. A credit statement should look something like: Reprinted/adapted with permission from the Cornell Youth and Work Program, www.human.cornell.edu. Anyone wishing to reproduce or adapt these materials for profit, please contact us.
These materials were developed and made available on the web before we began the Mentoring Youth at Work project, which yielded the materials in the section on Workplace Mentoring. We have not eliminated the earlier materials on teaching in the workplace from this section, though they have now been supplanted by the new section. Nor have we systematically provided links between the two sections.