Winter is finally over (on paper, at least), which means summer is just around the corner. Even though school will be out, many students use the summer months to build skills, gain work experience, and explore interests that could develop into future educational and career choices.

Keep in mind, high school is when students make decisions about their career paths, so forging connections with them during that timeframe is integral to a successful talent pipeline.

So, how can you, as an employer, make the most of the summer season to build your future workforce?

One word: work-based learning!

What is Work-based Learning (WBL)?

Work-based learning (WBL) is an umbrella term for a variety of activities that let you interact with students while building connections, skills, and interest in your company.

WBL activities range from job shadows to internships to school-based projects. This means there are options that work for every employer based on their industry, careers, and the time and resources they have available.

Regardless of the specific choices an employer makes, there are standard benefits that come with any WBL activity, including:

  • Helps you develop potential future employees with the skills & preparation needed for your careers
  • Provides insight into the thoughts, priorities, and skills of today’s students
  • Strengthens your existing employees’ supervisory and leadership skills
  • Demonstrates your investment in the community & local schools
  • Builds awareness of your company and careers with students and school counselors
  • Gain value from student work (i.e. actual productive work)
  • Retain local talent and help local economies prosper

You can see why WBL has grown in popularity across employers, and why schools are focusing more and more on partnering with employers to offer it to students.

But with many options, the question becomes: which WBL activities are best for your company, specifically for the summer?

Best Work-based Learning Activities for the Summer

 Some WBL activities are heavily reliant on collaboration with schools and their CTE programs, such as career and technical student organizations or school-based enterprise, projects, or simulations.

These programs tend to have excellent success rates and get a lot of buy-in, but they are largely limited to the school year.

Summertime is best-suited to WBL activities that get students engaged in your company in ways that they may not have the time or capacity for during the school year. Take a look at our list of best WBL activities for the summer below:

1. Internships and Summer Jobs

Internships and summer jobs provide students with hands-on experience in an industry. Students get to learn about your company and careers while gaining work experience (whether paid or unpaid). This can be a great way for employers to identify and train potential employees for future positions.

2. Mentorships

Mentorship programs involve pairing up experienced employees with students to facilitate transfer of knowledge and strong connections. Students get to learn about a field they are interested in, build skills, and glean real-world perspectives on a career. Employers benefit from building a strong connection with a young person interested in their field, potentially setting the groundwork for future employment.

3. Apprenticeships

Similar to internship programs, apprenticeships train individuals in specific skills or trades. This can be particularly effective in industries such as construction or manufacturing, especially when offered to recent graduates. It’s important to note that for these industries, there tends to be greater regulations around WBL – if you’ve got questions about the logistics of WBL in your industry, click here for guidance in ND or here for MN, or reach out to us at Golden Path for help.