Our Frequently Asked Questions

Our goal is to answer any questions you may have about work-based learning opportunities. You might be able to find the answer you’re looking for below; if not, please feel free to reach out to our NoCo Inspire team today. We’ll be more than happy to help.

Work-Based Learning

By definition, work-based learning (WBL) refers to opportunities for learning that occur in part or in whole at the workplace and that provide individuals with hands-on, real-world experiences. Individuals involved in work-based learning range from youth just entering the workforce to adults making a career change.

The Larimer County Work-Based Learning Alliance divides these opportunities into a workforce development continuum that provides multiple resources necessary for present and future business needs.

Work-based learning helps to create a system in which individuals can connect with local businesses to gain hands-on learning experience that’s applicable in real-world situations. Work-based learning is beneficial for jobseekers and employers alike.

Jobseekers, which range from high school students to career-changing adults, can gain exposure to their career of interest and learn the ropes of your company.

Through work-based learning, businesses have the opportunity to develop a more robust talent pipeline, access an interested labor pool and eventually hire qualified employees who have the experience they are looking for.

If you’re not sure if WBL opportunities would benefit your business, we encourage you to reach out to our NoCo Inspire team. We will discuss your goals and determine if and which of our services make sense for you when advancing and growing your business.

The Alliance

This phrase refers to the three tiers developed by the Larimer County Work-Based Learning Alliance that break down the three stages in which businesses may benefit from work-based learning. They include:

  • Building industry awareness and exposure
  • Getting strategic with hiring and onboarding
  • Developing and retaining your current workforce

Depending on the business’ needs, one or all of the tiers may be applicable and beneficial to the respective business’ goals. Learn more about the services in each tier here.

Internships / Apprenticeships 

Begin by interviewing the intern for fit. See if your vision aligns with their goals. After hiring the intern, assign the intern a mentor who can take on a lead role with onboarding the intern and helping them learn and navigate the culture of your business.

An intern who feels part of the team will feel more motivated in the success of the team. Provide meaningful work and have the intern identify goals for themselves. Interns who hold responsibility and understand how their work plays into the bigger picture will perform more responsibly. Finding projects that the intern can take a lead on or be part of can help the intern feel invested and allow them a great learning opportunity.

Utilize your first interns to create training manuals and/or create a page on your website as a training and network tool for future interns. If you have multiple interns, creating a cohort and having them meet throughout the internship can help with successful placement.

Choose an employee who has the knowledge and experience to help the intern learn the job and build out their skills. The employee could be someone your company is considering for a future lead or supervisory position.

Supervising or mentoring an intern can be a meaningful way for the employee to practice those skills. It can also give the employee an opportunity to show pride in their work and the part they play in the company’s mission.

All public partners offer job readiness and career counseling support to students and jobseekers. Some partners require these activities prior to placement while others offer the services as an option.

Depending on the partner, the intern or apprentice may have an assigned support person from the public partner who provides more direct assistance to the intern or apprentice and to the business.

Check with each of our individual public partners to learn more about their specific protocols.

Yes, adults can also do internships! In fact, you may find an adult in college, retraining or transitioning into another career pathway who would benefit from an internship opportunity that helps build work experience in their new career pathway. Internship experience can help give adults a competitive edge in their job search.

Adult interns can also offer you their previous experience and knowledge that allows them to hit the ground running.

Both paid and unpaid internships are a great way to gain valuable hands-on experience that can be hard to come by in school. The issue of pay for work is primarily dependent upon whether an employer gets a benefit from the activities of the student.

While it is recognized that students and jobseekers in work-based learning situations are learning, it is also generally true that the students are working, providing a benefit for an employer.

However, nonpaid work-based learning experiences can and do exist. Unpaid internships need to meet stricter standards than paid ones and are more likely to be eligible for college credit.

Some internships can definitely be completed online or virtually so long as there are others in the organization also working virtually.

It is important for the company to either have a plan in place to loan equipment (computer, tablet, phone, etc.) or have a policy that allows for use of personal equipment. It is also important to ensure the intern has the software needed to complete the work. Interns can participate in meetings and tasks the same as your employees.

As for guidance on virtual internships and what they entail, there are a number of websites and articles you can refer to for help. We recommend utilizing the resources available through NoCo Inspire, as we provide business owners and HR representatives with customized support for hiring an intern during the time of COVID.

Our Alliance partners have additional support for the individuals who are placed with businesses and organizations during the pandemic.

Internships and apprenticeships give the student or jobseeker entry-level experience in a career pathway.

Internships are completed in a shorter time frame and are considered temporary work experiences. Internships provide work experience, skill development, career exploration and networking opportunities.

An apprenticeship is a formal employment program that trains the student or jobseeker for a specific job. The student or jobseeker is an employee and is provided with a mix of on-the-job training and formalized related training (classroom-based, online, etc.).

Apprenticeship programs can last from one to six years and have built-in wage increments.

Apprenticeship helps businesses develop highly skilled employees. They are investments in a business’ workforce and can reduce turnover rates, increase productivity, support a culture of learning, allow employers to gain value from the workforce sooner than with classroom-only training and help to create a more diverse workforce.

Apprenticeships help you to BUILD the right talent. Because you are clarifying and providing the training that is important to you and your business, you are in control and able to create the workforce you need.

Additionally, because you are investing in your workforce/staff, you tend to attract the kinds of candidates who are serious about working with you and doing YOUR kind of work.

There is administrative work at different phases of an apprenticeship, and time commitment at these different phases varies. If you are developing a program, it can involve some initial investment in time to clarify your on-the-job training plans and the related instruction needs and outcomes.

Staff at your local Workforce Center can assist you in finding sample programs, identifying training providers, connecting you with other businesses who can share their ideas and resources and connecting you with State consultants who can help to guide you through the development process and paperwork.

Developing the program: Free assistance exists for businesses to help businesses develop or connect to existing apprenticeship program. Connect with your local Workforce Center for more information.

Covering the cost of training: Training can be covered by the employer or the employee. Tax credits exist for eligible businesses who invest in training their employees. Funding also exists that could help an employee cover their training costs. Connect with your local Workforce Center.

Covering administrative costs: Like trainers, admin staffing costs are simply the cost of doing business, but as mentioned above, the investment in staff to keep a program going may be far less than the cost of continually needing to recruit new staff.

Youth Work Requirements

Youth can do more than you think they can on your production floor. Most businesses find their own in-house policies drive the 18+ age requirement.

To read more about youth work-based learning myths vs. facts, read the Busting Myths document. For concerns about specific machinery, reference the Colorado Youth Labor Law fact sheet.

Safety training and supervision are two of the most important needs for youth work experience. Proper and thorough safety training is a must. Attentive supervision helps youth know what the work expectations are and gives them continuous feedback.

Mentorship is also a helpful component. Assigning a lead worker or star employee to mentor the young person will help the young person feel more connected to the work and culture of the company. Your employee will also benefit by building leadership skills.

Disabilities

No. You have to hire the most qualified individual for the position you are seeking to fill. If the individual with a disability is the most qualified, then you may have to be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations to them to perform the essential functions of their job.

No.

The majority (over 50%) of the time accommodations for a worker with a disability costs you, as the employer, little to no cost at all.

Studies have shown when an employer does have to provide accommodation that costs the company money, it is, on average, a one-time cost of $500 or less. But, keep in mind, there are also many tax benefits your company may then be qualified for, which could cover that cost if you had to pay it.

There are many low-cost examples of reasonable accommodations. Easy ones include:

  • Schedule changes
  • Allowing an employee to have a stool if they need to alternate between standing and sitting
  • Allowing for ergonomic workstations
  • Adding an audio amplifier to a phone for someone who is hard of hearing

Some technical accommodations could be computer software, such as screen readers. Though this is of higher cost, if the individual works with agencies like DVR, it could be something that is already covered by outside entities.

Other higher cost accommodations include remodeling office spaces or adding automated sensors to open doors, but again, these accommodations may qualify your company for certain tax benefits that could offset or cover that cost.

No.

There is no evidence to show that workers with disabilities perform less than their non-disabled counterparts. Workers with disabilities, especially when provided the reasonable accommodations, are just as capable of performing at or above expectations.

No.

Workers Comp and Liability coverage is based on the relative hazards of the company’s operations and the accident history of the company, not if the company has individuals with disabilities working for them.