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Work-based learning is authentic learning experiences that allow students to explore their career goals, abilities, and interests while applying their academic and technical knowledge and skills in a real-world context. These experiences are planned and supervised by instructional staff in collaboration with business, industry, or community partners.

WBL and Perkins Accountability

 New York has selected the work-based learning program as the state-selected quality indicator defined in the Perkins five-year plan since WBL is a component of approved programs. The data indicator is the number of CTE concentrators in the most recent graduation cohort that participated in 54 hours of work-based learning and have graduated high school. A WBL content advisory panel convened 2021 to determine additional state policies and supports needed in schools to meet this goal.

There are many types of work-based learning in schools, ranging from informal job shadowing to diploma credit supervised programs. New York State has four types of registered work-based learning in addition to unregistered WBL  experiences, which are integral components of Career and Technical Education. The NYS Work-Based Experience Learning Manual provides an overview of requirements and guidelines.

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.

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 the 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 on 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 Laws Covering Employment of Minors and federal labor laws wage and hour regulations, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, employment fringe benefits, and the regulations and responsibilities of the local school district.

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 timesheets, 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

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 may pursue one of two options. Option 1 requires at least 54 hours of work-based learning experiences.

Following are resources for implementing the CDOS Commencement Credential:

Work-based Learning Resources

High-quality WBL Programs

Refer to the High-quality Framework for standards and toolkit for High-quality WBL Programs as part of the ACTE Quality CTE Program of Study Framework

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 

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

NAF Guide to Work-based Learning

The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is an acclaimed network of career-themed academies that prepare high school 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 suggestions 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.