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Learning Rooted in Work

Posted on October 20, 2022 at 2:30 PM by Monica Clark

Learning at Community Colleges in Iowa and across the country has long been rooted in direct connections to industries and current work opportunities. Colleges are highly responsive to the needs of their local regional economies, tailoring programs to available jobs, and ensuring that their teaching keeps up with industry trends and technological shifts.

Work-based learning (WBL) has grown in popularity in recent years as educators recognize the importance of real-world experiences in solidifying learning and preparing students for their futures. Iowa’s Community Colleges have long been at the center of this effort and have helped to ensure high-quality experiences with strong learning outcomes and real connections to business.

Iowa Work-Based Learning graphic wheel

In Iowa, WBL is defined as a continuum of experiences from awareness of career opportunities to specific on-the-job training, and our Community Colleges play a key role in the system.

Intermediary Network

The Iowa Intermediary Network consists of coordinators and other staff at Iowa’s 15 Community Colleges who bring K-12 and business together to create meaningful experiences for students. Experiences include career fairs, tours, job shadows, job fairs, mock interviews, career immersions, internships, apprenticeships, and more. The Intermediary Network has led these efforts for more than 15 years.


Embedded Work-Based Learning

Iowa’s Community Colleges also embed work-based learning throughout college courses and programs. Hundreds of courses across the state embed everything from job shadows and speakers to internships and clinical experiences. This also includes supporting registered and other apprenticeships in several ways. Some directly coordinate apprenticeships for area businesses and others are partners in validating educational experiences and providing college credits.

Beyond specific programs and courses, staff and faculty throughout our Colleges contribute to finding experiences for students and helping ensure they are successful. Staff from admissions, advising, and career services help make connections to businesses and coordinate the experiences they and students are looking for. Faculty work to not only coordinate experiences, but ensure they are connected to meaningful learning, skill-building, and exploration.

College Work-Based Learning Pages

To find college-specific information, check out these pages to find out more.

Northeast Iowa Community College

North Iowa Area Community College

Iowa Lakes Community College

Northwest Iowa Community College

Iowa Central Community College

Iowa Valley Community College District

Hawkeye Community College

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges

Kirkwood Community College

Des Moines Area Community College

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Iowa Western Community College

Southwestern Community College

Indian Hills Community College

Southeastern Community College

Videos and Podcasts

If you’re on the go or your reading eyes need a break, check out these YouTube videos and podcasts that take a closer look at work-based learning in our state.


Commitment to work-based learning at IWCC

Work-based learning making an impact in Iowa Community

Commitment to Work-Based Learning: Kreg Tool Company

Full Speed Ahead: Collaborative Career Pathways and Work-based learning in Iowa

Commitment to Work-Based Learning: Afinitas

Commitment to Work-Based Learning: ATEK

Podcast Episodes

Mission Employable Episode 93: Work-Based Learning Works!

Mission Employable Episode 98: Clearing the Road for the Next Generation

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