Students outside of an ambulance

The term ‘‘work-based learning’’ means sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real workplace settings, to the extent practicable, or simulated environments at an educational institution that foster in-depth, firsthand engagement with the tasks required in a given career field, that are aligned to curriculum and instruction.

(CARL D. PERKINS CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION ACT OF 2006 [Public Law 88–210; December 18, 1963] [As Amended Through P.L. 116–6, Enacted February 15, 2019] Section 3-55

Work-based learning (WBL) bridges the gap between school and in-demand, high-skill careers in Hawaiʻi. WBL activities begin as early as elementary school and continue through post-secondary education. Through structured employer engagement, WBL helps students build on their classroom-based instruction by developing and strengthening technical skills and employability skills in preparation for future careers.

A Statewide Vision for Work-Based Learning

Hawaiʻi is experiencing unprecedented collaboration between educators and employers to prepare students for college and career success. Having a unified vision and success criteria are critical to our efforts. This Statewide Work-Based Learning Success Criteria guides how work-based learning programs and experiences are designed so Hawai‘i students are able to equitably access engaging experiences that are aligned to their pathways.

Work-Based Learning Intermediaries

Hawai’i work-based learning intermediaries act on behalf of our local workforce and education system to connect our students to structured, industry-specific work-based learning opportunities with partner employers. Work-based learning intermediaries are critical partners in designing and implementing high-quality work-based learning at scale by carrying out key functions and providing regional infrastructure to the state’s work-based learning delivery system.

Building Students’ Academic, Life Skills, and Experiences

School-community partnerships ensure that Hawaii youth are prepared for their next steps after high school graduations throughout the education pipeline.


Awareness activities are one-time events that expose students to the wide range of career, college, and community options available to them.

Defined by:

  • One time interaction with business/community partner(s), often for a group of strudents
  • Designed primarily by adults to broaden the awareness of students to a wide variety of careers and occupations

Learn More Awareness


Exploration activities go beyond one-time experiences. They strengthen student understanding of the connection between classroom learning and “real-life” applications

Defined by:

  • Multiple interactions or rigorous one-time experiences with business/community partner(s) for a single student or small group
  • Personalized to connect to emerging student interests
  • An active student role in selecting and shaping the experiences
  • Increased depth in a particular career field
  • Building the skills necessary for in-depth WBL

Learn More Exploration


Preparation activities give students extended, surprised opportunities to develop readiness skills for work and life.

Defined by:

  • Supervised direct interaction with business/community partners over time
  • Application of skills transferable to a variety of careers
  • Activities that have value beyond success in the classroom
  • Learning for student and benefit to business/community partner are equally valued

Learn More Preparation


Training opportunities prepare students for entry or advancement in specific careers or post-secondary degree programs

Defined by:

  • Monitored interaction with business/community partner(s) over extended period of time
  • Developed mastery of occupation-specific skills
  • Completion of certifications or other requirements of a specific range of occupations
  • Benefit to business/community partner and learning for student are valued

Learn More Training

Hawaiʻi Work-Based Learning Continuum

The Hawai‘i Work-Based Learning Continuum builds students’ academic skills, life skills and experience as they progress from learning ABOUT work to learning THROUGH and FOR work that connects to their career, college, and community goals.

  1. K-12 students are more engaged and prepared for each step in their education

  2. CTE pathways prepare students equally for college and career, and increase the % of high school students that graduate with industry-recognized certificates and college credits

  3. Increased rates of high school graduation, college enrollment, and degree completion rates

  4. WBL is informed by real-time labor market information

  5. Hawaiʻi employers are helping prepare exceptional, local employees in high-demand career fields

  6. Students develop and demonstrate concrete “life skills” identified as crucial for postsecondary success

  7. Students develop and demonstrate local and global leadership skills (HIDOE Nā Hopena A’o outcomes)

  8. HIDOE meets school design goals of powerful applied learning practices aligned to career, college, and community success

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