Work-based learning (WBL) is the “umbrella” term used to identify activities, which collaboratively engage employers and schools in providing structured learning experiences for students. These experiences focus on assisting students develop broad, transferable skills for postsecondary education and the workplace. A quality WBL program can make school-based learning more relevant by providing students with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real world situations.

There are many types of work-based learning in schools, ranging from informal job shadowing to diploma credit supervised programs. New York State recognizes four types of approved work-based learning, which are integral components of Career and Technical Education. The NYS Work Experience Learning Manual is an excellent overview of requirements and guidelines. Schools seeking to obtain approval for conducting work-based learning must register using this form. Also, on the NYS Education Department website are copies of several frequently used forms.

Following are several work-based learning resources for your reference.

CDOS Credential and Work-based Learning 

The NYS CDOS Commencement Credential is a credential recognized by the NYS Board of Regents as a certificate that the student has the knowledge and skills necessary for entry level employment.

To earn the NYS CDOS Commencement Credential, a student must have successfully completed not less than the equivalent of two units of study (216 hours) in either CTE courses and/or work-based learning experiences.

Following are resources for implementing the CDOS Commencement Credential:

Legal Considerations

The following are several important legal considerations.

New York State Workers’ Compensation Insurance Statement

All School District or BOCES sponsored work-based learning experiences, paid or non-paid, may take place either during school hours or beyond (after school, evenings, weekends, holidays, school breaks and summer). All Students who participate in paid or non-paid work based learning experiences must be covered under the Employers’ Workers’ Compensation Insurance as stated in the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Employers’ Handbook under Student Interns on page 42.

Working Papers

School districts in New York State are responsible for issuing employment certificates (working papers) and permits to certain school age workers. Information on working papers is available from NYSED website.

Working Papers and Social Security Numbers

Effective January 1, 2010, the use of Social Security numbers by state agencies and governmental entities is restricted to prevent identity theft. These guidelines for this law describe procedures.

In addition, according to the Employment Certificating Officers’ Manual under the section entitled Requirements for Applicants: “It is not mandatory for minors to have a social security number; however, the form requests a social security number in order to encourage young people to obtain one.” Therefore, requiring a social security number from a minor applying for working papers was a school option. It has always been an employer’s responsibility to obtain the social security number from each employee for payroll purposes.

Hazardous Occupations

Students may NOT be placed in any of the prohibitive hazardous occupations as defined by NYS and US Departments of Labor.

The minimum age is 18 for employment in non-agricultural occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. The rules prohibiting working in hazardous occupations (HO) apply either on an industry basis, or on an occupational basis no matter what industry the job is in. Parents employing their own children are subject to the same rules. Some of these hazardous occupations have definitive exemptions. In addition, limited apprentice/student-learner exemptions apply to some occupations. For more information these exemptions refer to this fact sheet from the Department of Labor.

For more information regarding child labor laws refer to the Department of Labor guidelines.

New York State Child Labor Laws

The coordinator must be knowledgeable about New York State and federal labor laws wage and hour regulations, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, employment fringe benefits, and the regulations and responsibilities of the local school district. In-depth information can be obtained in the latest issues of Laws Governing the Employment of Minors in New York State and other publications available from New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) regional offices.

Records Retention

It should be the policy of the school district/BOCES to maintain student records according to the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule as outlined below:

  • Memorandums of agreement, training plans, parent/guardian permission forms, student’s time sheets and work summaries, and similar work based learning records: six (6) years from when the student graduates or would have normally graduated from school
  • Student journals: one (1) year after the end of the school year
  • Copy of Employment Certificates (working papers): zero (0) years after student attains age 21

Certification Requirements for WBL Coordinators

A state approved work based learning program should be a rigorous and relevant learning experience for the student. The WBL experience typically relates to the student’s future career goals, when appropriate, and the development of workplace skills (e.g., punctuality, working as a team member) and technical skills (e.g., how to perform specific tasks). WBL programs allow the student to apply the theory, knowledge, and practical skills learned in a career and technical education course/program and/or an academic course. The coordination of a quality WBL program requires a certified educator who possesses the appropriate knowledge, skills, and training. Learn more about certification requirements.

Certification can be obtained from:

Work-based Learning Resources 

Career Zone

Career information delivery system developed and maintained by the New York State Department of Labor in partnership with the State Education Department to support career exploration and planning activities.


New York State Department of Labor’s, occupation exploration and management tool for adults with information driven by O*NET and tailored for New York State. JobZone contains local information based on where you live ranging from job fairs to contact information for the nearest One-Stop Career Center.


The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) serves as the Nation’s primary source of occupational information. O*NET is a skill-based relational computer database containing a wide variety of job descriptors pulled from many occupational domains, and providing information at multiple levels of specificity. These domains include knowledge, skills, abilities, generalized work activities, work context, organizational context, labor market statistics, work styles, interests, education, training, experience, and tasks. Data on more than 800 occupational categories common in the U.S. economy are included in O*NET.

Career Plan 

The New York State Education recommends a student career plan include plans for any work-based learning.

NYSDOL Youth Portal

A web page created by the New York State Department of Labor’s Youth Office to help link youth to resources that help them find their way to the future and prepare for careers. The portal is customized for youth ages 14-17 and youth ages 18-24. Information on how to obtain working papers, build responsible online profiles to attract businesses, and prepare for job interviews is provided.

NYC DOE Quality Work-Based Learning Toolkit 

New York City has developed an online toolkit to create Quality Work-Based Learning including specific guides, factsheets, tools and resources to help you build work-based learning opportunities for students.

Quality Work-based Learning 

New Ways to Work from Sonoma California, works with practitioners and policy-makers to identify the issues, and engages local partners to design and implement approaches that provide new opportunities for youth to succeed. They have several excellent materials on Creating Quality Work-Based Learning.

Transforming Education Through Linked Learning 

From the Linked Learning initiative in California is a toolkit for work-based learning on advisory boards, district system development, teacher professional development, legal and logistics and video examples.

Launchpath for Employers 

This employer focused website emphasizes the employer benefits of working with internships and work-based learning and provides suggestions for implementing successful practices.

Washington – Worksite Learning Manual 

A work-based learning guide from Washington.

Wisconsin – Worked-Based Learning: An Employer’s Guide

A work-based learning guide from Wisconsin.

Work-based Learning in Europe

The policy environment at the European level provides a supportive context for the development of work based learning (WBL) as an integrated curriculum. An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs suggests that employers should be encouraged to co-invest and participate in the development and delivery of education through WBL.


The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is an acclaimed network of career-themed academies that prepare high schools students for academic and career success and focus on one of four career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. This publication offers suggestion on work-based learning.

Using Internships to Deepen Classroom Learning and Develop Professional Skills 

A paper on developing academic and personal behaviors through work-based learning.