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M2.04 Conducting the mentoring process

6. Mentoring to support successful work‐based learning programmes

What is Work-Based Learning?
Work-based learning programs 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.

In the context of career pathways, work-based learning plays a central role in bridging the classroom and the world of work, leading to improved educational and employment outcomes for participants.
Work-based learning helps students contextualize, reinforce, and put into practice their classroom learning while crystalizing their education and career goals and improving their immediate and longer-term employment prospects.

Work-based learning is made of activities that occur in workplaces and that involve an employer assigning a worker or a student meaningful job tasks to develop his or her skills, knowledge, and readiness for work and to support entry or advancement in a particular career field. Work based learning extends into the workplace through on-the-job training, mentoring, and other supports for a continuum of lifelong learning and skill development.

Participants in work-based learning must have opportunities to engage in appropriately complex and relevant tasks (i.e., those that are representative of work in a particular industry, rather than general support roles) aligned with participants’ career goals.
Work-based learning should take place in work environments that support learning by providing appropriate mentoring and supervision. Participants should have opportunities to engage in work-based learning over a sustained period of time in order to ensure that they have adequate opportunity to perform meaningful job tasks.
Such tasks are important because they provide learners with opportunities to develop skills and gain experience relevant to a specific industry, positioning them for successful career entry and advancement.

Role of Mentors for Successful Work-Based Learning W
Workplace mentoring has been identified as an important aspect of work-based learning in projects conducted under the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. By establishing relationships with caring and competent adults who can provide emotional support and facilitate skill development, less-experienced youth and adults are more likely to bridge the gap between school and work. Workplace mentoring requires a partnership commitment that involves time, energy, and resources of qualified mentors, school personnel, and learners themselves. As in other endeavours, workplace mentoring requires planning, training, monitoring, and assessment to ensure that the individuals being mentored will achieve successful outcomes.

Mentors play an influential role in promoting work-based learning and skill development whereby mentees enhance efficiency and productivity at work. The role of mentors has become crucial in facilitating individual learning and skill development. On the other hand, mentoring can help mentors reinforce or, in fact, double their knowledge base. It boosts their self-esteem and gives them increased job satisfaction. Mentoring has benefits for everybody.

Mentors can be effective promoters of workplace learning in that they:

Create a Personalized Learning Environment: Mentors can create an informal setting whereby mentees can feel free to approach them for suggestions. They can understand an individual’s learning styles and the preferences of their mentees and mould the learning process to suit those styles. Thus, they can provide effective guided learning for the best advantage of their mentees.

Facilitate Transition from School to Workplace: Fresher’s come with skills but lack experience in putting those skills to better use in the new environment. Here, mentors can help mentees transform those skills to suit their job responsibilities by timely analysis and guidance.

Provide Emotional and Professional Support: Mentors are out to help mentees in all situations arising in the new workplace. They do everything necessary for the well-being of the mentees. They see that mentees feel comfortable and give of their best. When mentees are sure that there is an experienced colleague looking after them, they can make a focused approach to learn the job skills in a short span of time.

Plan, Monitor and Assess Individual Learning: As in any other pedagogical process, work-based learning too requires planning, monitoring and evaluating individual progress towards the intended outcomes. Mentors play this role to perfection.

Inspire and Throw New Challenges at Mentees: Mentors exude great command of the subject they deal with. Thus, they are not afraid of challenging their mentees who perform below the mark by playing a proactive role as a guide. They behave and act in the best interests of their mentees, thus commanding their respect.

Teach How to Learn in Practice: Out of their experience gained over the years of practice in the field, mentors can give useful anecdotes to their mentees which enable the latter to deal with various difficult situations in the workplace. Thus, they can contribute to confidence-building measures in their mentees.