From CTE Policy Watch – Work-based learning is integral to high-quality CTE, but access, logistics and safety issues all present challenges. In response, CTE programs are increasingly turning to simulated work-based learning, as documented in a new National Center for Innovation in CTE report.

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The publication defines “simulated work-based learning” as an immersive experience in a protected educational setting that replicates workplace tools, processes and/or environments. The researchers categorize simulated work-based learning into three models, the first more common on the postsecondary level and the latter two more frequently used in secondary education:

  • Simulation tools, such as welding simulators or mannequins for health classes
  • Simulated workplaces, which transform CTE classrooms into work-like environments
  • School-based enterprises, in which students manage a school business such as a store

Benefits include increased student engagement, confidence and preparation for work, as well as programs that adapt more quickly to industry needs. Employers also report that students are better prepared for jobs and have more career awareness.

To grow your simulated work-based learning activities, the report recommends:

  • Aligning with local assets and needs
  • Engaging industry on a regular basis
  • Providing targeted professional development for educators
  • Budgeting long term

ACTE contributed expertise to this project.

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