Work Experience (WEX) & Career Explorations
Work experience is the part of an educational program that provides a student with an opportunity to participate in, observe or learn about the performance of tasks and responsibilities related to an occupation or career in the workplace.
Rationale for Work Experience
Work experience is intended to help prepare students for the transition from secondary school to the world of work or further education and training. The community becomes the classroom where students gain knowledge and experience about the workplace and are provided with a frame of reference to review or revise their career goals. Work experience provides students with an opportunity to apply classroom learning in a context outside of school and to bring back to the classroom new perspectives about their learning.
Through work experience students will have the opportunity to observe and practise generic employability skills required in the workplace and, in some cases, to practise technical skills relating to specific occupations.
Work Experience and Graduation Requirements
To satisfy graduation requirements, all students must complete a minimum of 30 hours of work experience or volunteer experience. In the Graduation Program 2004, students complete this requirement as part of their mandatory Graduation Transitions. This graduation requirement recognizes the importance of experiential learning and the importance of extending education beyond the classroom into the community.
Work experience is a required component of the Graduation Transitions
Elective Work Experience Courses
To fulfil the 30 hours of work experience required for graduation and/or to provide students with additional work experience, many schools offer elective work experience courses that relate to a Career Program or Focus Area.
Elective work experience courses provide opportunities for students, especially those whose learning style is better suited to hands-on activities, to further explore career areas and develop job readiness skills as well as technical skills relating to specific occupations or industries. Elective work experience also allows students to further practice the generic employability skills needed to be successful in the world of work.
Objectives of Work Experience
Work experience provides students with an opportunity to:
- Use or develop employability skills
- Gain valuable experience in a setting outside the school
- Explore community workplaces
In-school experiences, like live broadcast TV or work on the school annual, are not considered ‘work experience’ because they are not community-based. Similarly, career fairs, although valuable as career exploration activities, are not work experience.
Work experience should engage students in the community and provide them with an opportunity to use or develop employability skills
Benefits of Work Experience
Work experience provides students with the following benefits:
- Earn credit for exploring the workplace at a practical level
- Make decisions based on a realistic understanding of the workplace
- Develop qualities and skills that are transferable to, and contribute to success in, employment and career development
- Reference(s) for future employers
- Increase awareness of interests and aptitudes
- Develop self-confidence
- Develop work-related networks/contacts
- Support the transition from school to work or further education
Timing of Work Experience
Required work experience is intended to take place after students complete the relevant learning outcomes in Planning 10, particularly through the ‘Education and Careers’ organizer, in which students undertake job readiness and reflection activities. As part of Planning 10, students and educators plan for work experience.
Work Experience Placement Options
When possible, work placement choices should relate to students’ career and personal goals, and reflect their personal likes, interests, and abilities, as these factors are the basis of career planning.
Elective work experience courses, or other school-arranged non-paid placements, are effective ways to provide students with work experience that promotes the development of employability skills. However, Graduation Transition work experience can be paid or unpaid. In order to use hours from a part-time job (“paid work experience”), the job must relate to the students career goals in order to receive full credit.
Examples of ways to satisfy the work experience component for graduation include:
- Hands-on work at a work site under the supervision of a work site sponsor in a business, government, non-profit or volunteer organization
- Job shadowing at a work site
- Volunteer experience with a community organization
- Ministry-Authorized Work Experience course
- Youth WORK in Trades
Work Experience 12A
Work experience 12A (WEX12A) is intended to provide students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the world of work, and the opportunity to explore their chosen career path. The course is designed to link classroom knowledge and activities to skills and attitudes that are required in the work place. This course directly relates to over a third of the aspects required for the portfolio completion.
- Receive four(4) Ministry authorized credits (100-120 hours)
- Fulfils the Graduation Transitions work experience requirement
- Explore career choices to make informed decisions
- Gain valuable experience with workplace situations and equipment
- Increase self-confidence and self-awareness
- Obtain reference and contacts that will assist with future job searches.