Achieving Scale and Quality in School-to-Work Internships: Findings from an Employer Survey

Achieving Scale and Quality in School-to-Work Internships: Findings from an Employer Survey

Mar 1998


Thomas Bailey
Katherine Hughes
Tavis Barr
Institute on Education and the Economy
Teachers College, Columbia University

Executive Summary:

Work-based learning is a central component of the school-to-work strategy. Yet this component is particularly difficult to build and institutionalize because it requires that educators and program organizers find appropriate settings where students can have work-based learning experiences. A widespread system of work-based learning in the form of internships or apprenticeships will need to involve thousands of employers willing to provide placements. Furthermore, those employers need to be willing to work with schools to see that those placements have educational value. Reluctant employers are not likely to cooperate enthusiastically in creating a positive learning environment on the job. Thus, the process of employer recruitment also has a strong bearing on the quality of internship placements.

This report examines the issue of employer involvement in the school-to-work strategy by comparing the characteristics of participating employers to a comparison sample of nonparticipating employers. A multilevel research design was used, combining case studies of specific programs with a survey of employers participating in those programs and a survey of a comparison group of nonparticipating employers in those same labor markets. The motivations of employer participants are identified. We also explore the quality of work-based learning placements to try to identify the relationship between the characteristics and motivations of employer participants and the quality of the internships that they provide. By better understanding the process of employer recruitment and the motivations of participants and how those relate to the quality of placements, we hope to help program operators find an adequate number of good-quality placements. Finally, our survey of nonparticipating employers provides information that allows us to estimate the rate of employer participation in internship programs in the cities that we surveyed.



Bailey, T., Hughes, K., & Barr, T. (1998, March). Achieving scale and quality in School-to-Work internships: Findings from an employer survey. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.