Experiential Learning

Learning beyond the classroom

Today's students need learning that goes beyond the classroom. School-work programs expand students' learning by helping them:

  • understand more about the industries they may want to pursue in the future
  • get exposed to career options in industries they may not have known about or even considered
  • develop essential workplace skills
  • see how their in-class learning can be applied in the workplace
  • make more informed decisions about their education and career path so they make a successful transition into the job market.

Giving students the chance to explore different career options and build their skills will help them prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

How students can learn beyond the classroom

Students can learn about the world of work by exploring different careers and industries through:

  • workplace tours
  • job shadowing
  • mentoring
  • cooperative education
  • school-work transitions
  • Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

How learning in the workplace helps employers

Providing high school students with learning opportunities in their workplace gives employers an affordable way to recruit, train and retain young workers.

Information for employers about school-work experiences

Employers can offer short, medium and long-term work experience opportunities to high school students. This helps generate awareness about their organization and career opportunities. Employers who are thinking about school-work programs should think about what works best for their organization, e.g., how many students they can accept, how much time and training they can offer, etc.

Short-term experience:
A short-term work experience works well for employers who want to reach students but do not have a student-friendly work environment.

  • Time commitment: an hour or up to one day.
  • Resources: an employee (s) dedicated to a one-day event.
  • Examples: workplace tours and classroom visits, where an employer can talk to students.

Medium-term experience:
A medium-term work experience can give students hands-on learning. It works well for employers who have a student-friendly environment but can't involve them in actual job functions.

  • Time commitment: one day to several weeks.
  • Resources: an employee dedicated to act as a mentor by spending time one-on-one with students for a specific period of time.
  • Examples: a short-term work placement that offers students hands-on experience as part of a high school credit course, or job shadowing where a student is paired with an employee or co-op student to observe the workplace.

Long-term experience:
A long-term work experience can help students learn a specific skill set or trade so they have the training/work experience to pursue a job in the organization or industry. It works well for employers who can place students in actual jobs. Student placements are done in September or February.

  • Time commitment: several months to a year or more.
  • Resources: training and supervising a student to do a job function within the organization.
  • Examples: can include an unpaid placement which lets students earn secondary school credits while applying classroom learning and exploring career interests.

Learn about the different types of School-Work Opportunities
The School-Work Opportunities Chart explains more about short, medium and long-term work experiences.

School-Work Opportunities Chart (PDF, 227 KB)

Employers who want to learn more school work programs can contact programimplementationbranch@ontario.ca.

Read how school-work programs can give students essential workplace skills in Advantage Ontario, the report from Ontario's Jobs and Prosperity Council.

Consultations: The Future of Experiential Learning in Ontario (Winter 2016)