​Work-based learning is becoming an increasingly essential part of occupational education in Europe, whether in the form of internships, apprenticeships, cooperative education, school-supervised work experiences, practicums, or clinicals. Work-based learning refers to all forms of learning that takes place in a real work environment. Apprenticeships (formal and informal), internships/traineeships and on-the-job training are the most common types of work-based learning. 

​Work-based learning is an integral part of school-to-work transition and a critical direction for occupational education reform.

In the VET Center of ICTIDC we see learning in context at workplace settings as a means of making VET relevant to job requirements and enhancing the transition from school to work.

Our work-based learning initiatives and project involve schools and community colleges in preparing students for work. 

EU VET Agenda

"One of the biggest challenges in developing skills for the labor market is to ensure that learning meets the needs of the workplace. One of the best ways of doing this is to make the fullest use of the workplace as a powerful learning environment, and to find effective mechanisms to link employer interests to the mix of training provision. This is more easily said than done. The development of high-level workplace skills, where work-based learning plays a leading role, is one of the central challenges both for competitive enterprises and collectively for a modern productive economy."
                                                                                                                          -- OECD Paper on Work-based learning in VET

Creating opportunities for high-quality work-based learning thus lies at the heart of current European education and training policies. In February 2013, the European Council confirmed that the highest priority should be given to promoting youth employment and invited the Commission to establish a “European Alliance for Apprenticeships”. It also announced the creation of a dedicated Youth Employment Initiative, open to regions with high youth unemployment rates, with a financial support of EUR 6 billion. Despite these commitments, the supply of apprenticeship and traineeship places in the EU continues to be under-developed. The need to identify, adapt and adopt practices which can tackle this skills gap is urgent. 

The EU Research paper on Worked-based learning in Europe points out that part of the solution can be found in high quality vocational education and training (VET) systems, in which the active participation of employers and a strong element of work-based learning facilitate young people's transition to work by providing the knowledge, skills and competences which they need for a successful first step into the labor market. 

​Work-based learning programs in Ireland and across Europe provide internships, mentoring, workplace simulations, and apprenticeships along with classroom-based study. In a work-based learning program, classroom instruction is linked to workplace skills through placements outside of the school that allow students to experience first-hand what adults do in jobs.

 Work-based learning is important because:

  • provides you with opportunities to try out a possible future career
  • allows you to gain expertise and experience in a particular role or occupation
  • allows you to apply academic subject knowledge in a work setting
  • develops practical, work-related skills such as project management, decision making, negotiating skills and teamwork
  • provides opportunities to learn about graduate employment and enhance your employability.

In Irish CT&ID Center we believe that a quality TVET program plays an essential role in promoting a country’s economic growth and contributing to poverty reduction as well as ensuring the social and economical inclusion of marginalized communities. Skills are vital for poverty reduction, economic recovery and sustainable development. 

​Irish CT&ID Center TVET Center offers coaching services on the following Work-Based Learning Types:


  1. Is for anyone interested in getting a foot in the door of a skilled craft or trade.
  2. Is a structured, formal way to gain skills on the job.
  3. Is always paid.
  4. Combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
  5. Registered apprenticeships are for adults aged 16 and over. Youth apprenticeships are for high school juniors and seniors.
  6. ERASMUS plus program of the EC offers apprenticeship opportunities under its KA1 Action.

Cooperative Work Experiences

  1. Is for high school or college students.
  2. Is a formal arrangement between your school and an employer.
  3. Allows you to do paid work while attending high school or college.
  4. Is usually supervised by a school representative to make sure that it matches your educational goals.
  5. Might require a class or seminar to supplement what you're learning on the job.
  6. Is subject to the Irish child labor laws.

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

  1. Are for college students or prospective college students.
  2. Give you college credit for activities or classes you've taken outside the normal college setting.
  3. Are sometimes based on classes that substitute for college work. Others allow you to meet college requirements by taking tests or substituting related work or life experiences.
  4. Paid work experience, volunteer work, and self-directed learning can all qualify as related experience.
  5. The Irish Institute for Work Based Learning offers organisations and individuals the opportunity to gain formal recognition and academic credit for learning that occurs in the workplace: create higher education programs where participants focus their learning on their workplace activities – enhancing the skills and abilities of individuals and providing return on investment for employers in Ireland and around the world.


  1. Is for high school or college students who want real-world experience to supplement classroom learning.
  2. Is a short-term work experience that allows you to gain practical skills and learn about an occupation.
  3. Can be either paid or unpaid.
  4. Sometimes provides school credit.
  5. Involves certain legal requirements for students under the age of 18.

Job shadowing:

  1. Is for anyone, at any stage in their career, but is most common for middle or high school students.
  2. Ranges from a few hours to a few days.
  3. Allows you to follow an employee on the job to experience real, day-to-day work in a specific occupation or industry.
  4. ERASMUS plus program of the EC offers Job shadowing opportunities under KA1 Action.

A career mentorship:

  1. Is for anyone, at any stage in their career.
  2. Is a relationship with someone who's further along in their career field. Your mentor may or may not be someone you already work with.
  3. Can help guide your career decisions, both big and small.
  4. Can give you inside information about an occupation, industry, or career. This can help you set or achieve your career goals.
  5. Can offer guidance, support, and motivation.
  6. Can range from a very informal to completely formal relationship.
  7. Can be face-to-face or via digital communication (often called e-mentoring).


  1. Is for students from 10th grade through any level of higher education.
  2. Allows you to complete a project related to your chosen career at a worksite.
  3. Lets you use state-of-the-art technology and resources that are often too expensive for schools to buy.
  4. Allows you to demonstrate your knowledge.
  5. Student teaching is an example of a practicum for education majors.

Service Learning

  1. Is for learners of all ages.
  2. Can be a short-term or long-term project.
  3. Helps you apply what you learn in a classroom or training to address community needs.
  4. Local businesses, social service organizations, and schools form partnerships to involve youth in service learning.

Vocational Student Organizations

  1. Are for adult and college students enrolled in vocational education programs.
  2. Provide career and leadership development, motivation, and recognition.
  3. Are an integral part of education and employment transitions programs.

Volunteer Service

  1. Is for anyone interested in making a difference and/or gaining new skills.
  2. Usually involves being assigned to a public service position for a certain length of time.
  3. Often includes pre-assignment training.
  4. Is most often unpaid, but you can sometimes earn a cost-of-living allowance.
  5. Sometimes includes other incentives, like credit for payment on school loans.
  6. ERASMUS plus program of the EC offers volunteering opportunities under the European Voluntary Service.

Worksite Field Trips

  1. Is a guided tour of a business. It is usually for elementary or middle school students.
  2. Is a chance to learn about work processes and the skill requirements of different jobs.
  3. Is a short-term experience that lets you explore many occupations at one time and ask questions.
  4. Is for an individual student or an entire class. It is usually more valuable for both students and employers when it involves a small group.

In the Irish Creative Training and Innovative Development Center we are committed to the development of competency-based and employment-led TVET programmes that are adapted to each country’s socio-economic context and to worldwide technological development.

The TVET Centre of Irish CT&ID Center assists relevant stakeholders to develop policies and practices concerning education for the world of work and skills development for employability and citizenship, to achieve:

  • Access for all
  • High quality, relevant and effective programs
  • Learning opportunities throughout life
  • Promote education as a fundamental human right
  • Improve the quality of TVET in Ireland and in Europe
  • Stimulate experimentation, innovation and dialogue.

ICT IDC promotes the work-based learning as an excellent training opportunity that provides students with real life work experiences where they can apply academic and technical skills and develop their employability.

In a wide range of work-based learning TVET programs, our learners have the opportunity to explore potential career options. They can get an inside view of what different careers may look like, identify career interests and skills via the unique connections to industry professionals and opportunities to see options first hand.