The National Network of Business and Industry Associations today released a guidebook for employers to understand and adopt work-and-learn programs, including modernized internships, apprenticeships and mentorships. Led by Business Roundtable and ACT Foundation, the National Network is a collaboration of 25 business organizations representing 10 economic sectors, and focuses on connecting the worlds of learning and work.

Work-and-Learn in Action: Successful Strategies for Employers highlights 15 real-life models, providing a blueprint to help companies implement similar strategies that improve workforce recruitment, training and advancement.

The guidebook underscores the range of ways that employers are increasingly involved in addressing the skills gap, which is leaving an estimated 4 million jobs unfilled. The examples featured can help more companies design work-based learning opportunities for more students and workers who need new skills.

Recent reports show there are 14 million working learners in the United States –individuals who are formally enrolled in postsecondary learning while also active in the labor market – who are seeking simultaneous opportunities to gain skills and work experiences that lead to good jobs. Companies can use the guidebook to create work-and-learn programs that connect to this working-learner talent pool.

Illustrating real examples from a wide range of company sizes and industries – from healthcare and hospitality to manufacturing and construction – the guidebook explains the benefits of integrating work experience and learning for both employers and individuals. Educators and workforce development professionals, who are working to help students connect what they are learning in school to what they will need to know in the workplace, can find valuable, current information in the real-life examples in the guidebook.

Key components of the guidebook include: a checklist for determining what quality work-and-learn models should entail; an analysis of the value of work-and-learn programs to companies and working learners; a list of key questions for employers to consider in designing programs that meet their specific needs; and a glossary of common work-and-learn terms.

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