The committee believes that MNPS has made tremendous strides in implementing work-based learning into its curriculum. We recognize the value of starting small to establish best practices and thus are including this recommendation to consider as the district scales the program to reach more students. The committee sought the perspective of an employer with established processes to inform our opinion of what was needed for a successful student and employer experience.
Ellen O’Neal, the community engagement program manager for HCA Healthcare presented to the committee to share that perspective. Employing over 20 students, HCA Healthcare is one of Metro’s largest employers for the program and possesses a wide range of experiences in implementing and managing the program across different locations. Major takeaways from that conversation are as follows:
While not intended to be all-inclusive, we believe the following considerations present initial opportunities for centralization and coordination:
Timeline: The time and coordination required among all parties involved differentiates work-based learning from other jobs. To overcome this hurdle, the committee suggests establishing a single timeline for employers with work-based learning opportunities. While there is not one way to accomplish this objective, we recommend allowing a lengthy timeline for the achievement of key milestones such as:
Ideally, the bulk of these milestones would be met by the end of the preceding school year before work-based learning experiences begin in the fall. This would allow several months for employers to prepare for students and would allow students to begin the school year anticipating their work-based learning experience. In some instances, this provides an opportunity for students and employers to begin the relationship over the summer with more time for training and onboarding outside of the confines of the school schedule.
Application: Because students may apply to multiple work-based learning opportunities, providing similar information to a variety of employers, the committee suggests streamlining the process through a common application. While certain employers may need to obtain industry-specific information and background checks, this could be achieved through supplements to the common application. Centralizing background checks could also lead to cost savings.
How data is used and shared should be considered when developing this common application process. The committee suggests using a centralized system which the coordinating MNPS team, students, and employers can all access to manage the application process. This will allow MNPS to have control over the security and transfer of data.