Work-Based Learning (WBL) Community - A State-to-State Conversation

By Laura Lausmann, TAA Liaison, Oregon Employment Department/Trade Program

Earn while you learn. Sounds good, right? Often referred to as the “Preferred Training Method,” On-the-Job (OJT) training, Apprenticeship, and Customized trainings should be an easy path back to suitable employment for our trade-affected workers, and yet these trainings continue to be challenging to secure and support within our program nationwide.

In Oregon, we have tried a few strategies and each have failed to produce an increase in opportunities in this type of training. While each of our states are unique, it’s likely that some or most of the challenges that we have faced are similar to the challenges TAA program staff encounter across the nation.

The TAA program in Colorado is leading the National TAA Petition Workgroup, and it’s quickly becoming a best practice, in its own right. TAA staff across the nation are sharing and learning from each other in a way we had never done before. As that workgroup gets stronger, and more impacted workers become identified for Trade, the need for a fine-tuned service delivery process will increase as well.

Hillary Clinton once said, “We’ve got unmatched talent, innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, so when we work together, we can all benefit.” I believe that to be true of all TAA state programs and staff. If we work together on this effort, we can strengthen and increase work-based learning (WBL) opportunities for those we serve.

After seeing what our partners in Colorado are doing with the National Petition Workgroup and realizing the challenges involved in developing WBL opportunities for our trade-affected workers, we decided to dive in headfirst and facilitate a National WBL workgroup with TAA coordinators across the country. We firmly believe that this workgroup will help us learn more from each other, share best practices, and drive new innovations in WBL through great partnerships with other states. The first meeting provided a lot of feedback in terms of what other states are doing well and what they want to learn. So, we’re really excited about what comes next.  

To that point, during next month’s meeting (July 15th @ 1pm ET), we will hear from the Minnesota’s TAA program. They will share how they have been able to see success in OJT plans, and we will have an opportunity to ask questions. Each third Thursday of every month will be something new: a best practice, a guest speaker, and discussions on strategies or challenges we encounter along the way.

Please join this new workgroup, we really want to work together and learn from you!  Perhaps together we can make OJT, Apprenticeship, and Customized training truly the “Preferred Training” for our program.