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Today’s students need access to exploratory career experiences to better prepare for their professional lives beyond high school graduation. 

The Hennepin West Consortium, in partnership with local high schools, technical colleges and GPS Education Partners, is proud to support hands-on work opportunities and career exploration for high school students interested in a variety of industries throughout Hennepin County. 

The true value of quality work-based learning (WBL) is its ability to provide a level playing field for success. Through structured WBL offerings, students have the chance to engage with businesses that were likely unavailable to them before. Without this network for helping students find and train for a career, their opportunities for securing employment are extremely limited. With exposure being the essential driver to changing the lens they see through, it’s critical to widen that lens. That way, students all have a chance to be productive members of society and grow their communities.


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Info Sessions
Stay tuned and keep a lookout for upcoming events…

Contact to learn more:

Mandy Janssen
GPS Education Partners
Solutions Development Manager

Download an expanded view of the GPS Education Partners’ Work-based Learning Journey here.


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The Hennepin West Education Consortium’s Work-based Learning and Youth Apprenticeship Program is rapidly equipping students with the experiences and skills they need to find and succeed in a future career. 

Moreover, work-based learning delivers valuable benefits to businesses like: 

  • Building strong connections with schools and community partners
  • Hire, train, and retain the next generation workforce
  • Ensure more students are prepared for college and career readiness
  • Mentor students in the professional competencies and technical skills that matter most to you
  • Become a preferred employer by investing in your community

Employers in the program are provided critical onboarding and training for students who are matched with their company’s desired workforce needs.

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Work-based learning can improve student motivation, attendance, and even graduation rates. For many schools, it is also strengthening their relationship with the community. 

By connecting the classroom learning to real-world work, students are given opportunities to practice skills in authentic work environments. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why engage in work-based learning?

Work-based learning programs, including youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, provide opportunities for high school students to experience and gain skills in a real work environment. Simultaneously, they give businesses a chance to inspire and develop a new generation of talent.

What schools are participating?

Participating schools in 2021-2022 are Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Lionsgate, Park Center, St. Louis Park, and Wayzata.  

Long term the vision is to include ALL high schools across the consortium.

Who are program students?

Students will be juniors and seniors with an expressed interest in an industry-aligned to an offered pathway. Students will have completed or currently be enrolled in related pathway courses at their high school or dual credit courses aligned to local post-secondary institutions. Students need to be at least 16 years old.

What are Employer Responsibilities?

  • Participate in a mentor training session and assign mentors to students
  • Interview and hire student(s) for a work-based learning experience.
  • Provide on the job training to the student(s)
  • Pay student(s) an hourly wage
  • Participate in regular review, assessments, and evaluations of students
  • Ensure avg of 15 hours/ week
  • Comply with the employment of minors (a.k.a. child labor) laws – Students are considered ‘Student Learners’ see below.

Do students get paid and hired as employees?

Yes, Students are paid as part of the work-based learning experience and hired by the business as an employee.  Students must complete the business application, interview, and any pre-employment screening process of the employer. As employees, students will need to comply with the employer’s code of conduct and policies. Wages will begin in the $12-16/hour range and may include incentives for students earning industry credentials/ certificates.

When are students eligible to work and how many hours/week?

Students and businesses are expected to support a minimum of 10-15 hours per week. Student availability will vary slightly, but students will generally work afternoons (1:30-5:00 PM) or 10-15 hours/week.  In some instances students may be able to work full days, work over school breaks or even continue over summer.

What type of work do students do?

Each student will participate in up to two job rotations. The first is an exposure rotation where students experience a variety of career paths within manufacturing at their business. The second is an experience rotation with the opportunity to dive a little deeper into an area of interest or skill set.

Who provides transportation for students?

It is the responsibility of the student/parent(s)/family to provide transportation to the classroom and the workplace.

What do we know about when working with students?

Students participating in the program will be considered Student Learners

In order to be considered a student learner, students must meet the following criteria:

  1. They are enrolled in a program approved by the local school or education authority
  2. They are enrolled in school and receiving school credit for program participation
  3. They receive appropriate safety instruction at the school and at the workplace
  4. The work performed is under direct and close supervision of a qualified and experienced person
  5. The work performed in any occupation declared hazardous is incidental to their training and is for intermittent and short periods of time
  6. There is a schedule of organized and progressive work processes to be performed on the job (i.e. the worksite is following the state work-based learning, youth apprenticeship, or pre-apprenticeship guidelines and curriculum)


All program participants will complete an Education Training Agreement

The agreement shall contain the name of the student-learner, parent/ guardian, and shall be signed by the employer and the school coordinator or principal.

Worker's Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance is not only a statutory requirement in the state, it also helps provide protection for both your employees and your business in the event of a workplace accident. Rates for worker’s compensation is based on a variety of factors – industry and job classification,  location(s), percent of the wages paid by the employer, and experience modification factor (claims frequency).  The age of employees is NOT a factor in determining rates.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is different from worker’s compensation insurance in that liability insurance covers those individuals who are not employed by the business, but who may suffer injury or death while on the premises of the business. Students in the program would be employees of the business.

Want to learn more about the power of work-based learning and how it can benefit your organization? Contact us today!

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