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Work-Based Learning (WBL) – Does it facilitate transitions to decent work?

This paper examines the different forms of work-based learning, and takes stock of available data on the labour market impact such schemes where they exist. It considers structured apprenticeships, internships, traineeships and other programmes that include a work-based learning component. The paper finds evidence of positive impacts of formal structured work-based learning, and argues that future efforts should encourage engagement with private sector firms in creating and expanding such structured opportunities for young people.

Given the generally positive evidence of the benefits of WBL, governments and social partners should continue efforts to expand provision of this kind of learning. However, expanding the provision of formal, structured WBL will require enhanced partnerships between the State and the private sector. While effective WBL relies on partnerships at the local level between individual workplaces and individual education and training institutions, at a system or policy level the private sector should be given opportunities to lead policy and strategy to expand the provision of WBL opportunities on terms that are attractive to employers.

The ADB has argued that to improve the outcomes of WBL, countries should review their TVET systems through a WBL lens, partner with employer associations to pilot WBL in selected sectors, require a WBL component to be included within infrastructure projects, and support public and private training institutions so that more TVET programmes combine on- and off-the-job training (ADB, 2017). These are particularly relevant recommendations for developing economies, where informal WBL remains particularly prevalent, and, with the addition of institutional provision, is increasingly being formalized.

A necessary adjunct to these policy-led approaches is the collection of more, and more robust, data on the prevalence and labour market outcomes of WBL, chiefly for employers, but also for the wider target audience for social marketing efforts, governments and individuals alike. If data on the benefits of WBL are more readily available and are used to argue for increased participation by employers and education and training institutions, then the growing demand from learners themselves will be more readily accommodated.

Efforts to build the knowledge base and share more robust data on WBL will continue to be compromised if a more coherent approach to the definition and classification of WBL schemes is not developed. In the absence of this more coherent approach, evidence-based policy-making will continue to be hampered by the fog that envelops efforts to compare and contrast WBL schemes, despite the apparent positive benefits these schemes offer to learners, employers and governments alike.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Does work-based learning facilitate transitions to decent work?

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