What is Work-Based Learning?

Work-Based Learning (WBL) - Activities that collaboratively engage employers and schools in providing structured learning experiences for students.

These experiences focus on assisting students to develop broad, transferable skills for postsecondary education and the workplace.

A quality WBL program can make school-based learning more relevant by providing students with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real world situations.

- New York State Education Department Work-Based Learning Programs

WBL takes place in both the workplace and classroom, thus making career exploration and development easier and more natural by connecting learning in school to the application of that learning in the workplace. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements and all federal and state labor requirements must be met for both paid and unpaid WBL programs.


These NY secondary transition podcasts feature practitioners from New York State schools discussing how they approach and implement work-based learning. They serve as an introduction to some of the concepts further explored in the WBL video series.

podcast icon Listen to Podcasts on Work-Based Learning


These videos provide actual examples of effective WBL taking place in New York State schools.

Full-screen viewing experience works best in the following browsers: Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox & Safari.
  • Video: Getting Started

    Duration - 10:57
  • Video: Working Together

    Duration - 16:57
  • Video: What Does WBL Look Like?

    Duration - 10:54

If you have questions about these videos or podcasts, contact info@transitionsource.org.

Implementation Resources

The resources available for download on this page provide information on WBL activities that can be implemented as part of a comprehensive transition program.

Download: The NYS Work Experience Manual - Materials on NYS Work-Based Learning may be found at www.p12.nysed.gov/cte/wbl, including this Work Experience Manual, created by the NYSED Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Download: Work-Based Learning Brief - This brief was created by the Transition Services Professional Development Support Center (PDSC). It provides an overview of work-based learning and a description of the range of evidence-based activities that can be included.

Download: Work-Based Learning Graphic Organizer - The WBL graphic organizer was created by the PDSC as a tool that can be used by educators and students to create a course of study, including age and grade appropriate WBL activities. This open resource may be printed and duplicated for use in schools. Printing specifications are included.

Parent Resources

These resource sheets were written by parents for parents; they provide information on transition and work-based learning from a family perspective.

Download: Preparing Your Child/Young Adult for Work - Developed by the Parent Center of Western New York, this sheet provides suggestions for parents helping their child prepare for the world of work.

Download: What the Workforce Innovation and opportunity Act (WIOA) Means for Young People with Disabilities in NYS - This sheet provides information regarding opportunities a federal law provides to help students with disabilities obtain competitive work in the community. The NYS Transition Partners, a federal Rehabilitation Support Administration-Funded Parent Information Center, developed this sheet. Download Spanish version

Additional Resources

NYS Work Experience Coordinators’ Association (WECA) - A professional association that “promotes work-based learning programs for all students under the auspices of the State Education Department… WECA fosters collaboration among work-based learning coordinators across the state and provides the tools and support needed to successfully place students in work experiences.”

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/YOUTH) - A national center for information about employment and youth with disabilities. Of the many employment related materials to explore, begin with the Guideposts for Success: Career Preparation & Work-Based Learning Experiences.

National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) - “NTACT’s purpose is to assist State Education Agencies, Local Education Agencies, State VR agencies, and VR service providers in implementing evidence-based and promising practices ensuring students with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities, graduate prepared for success in postsecondary education and employment.” Professionals in the field will benefit from NTACT’s many resources and trainings. Check out their Competitive Integrated Employment toolkit.