Skills beyond school

Work-based learning for youth at risk


 Read the OECD report: Work-based learning for youth at risk: Getting employers on board

The issue and scope

Youth were hit particularly hard by the recent financial crisis as labour market prospects for young people in many OECD countries worsened dramatically. Young people with little or no work experience have low chances of finding a job. As a result, the numbers of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) have been rising. High shares of NEET youth are an important concern not least because of the risk of “scarring effects” of early unemployment – being jobless at early stages has a negative effect on labour market outcomes even in the long run. In that context, countries are looking to work-based learning as a means of addressing the challenge. This module will look at work-based learning (WBL) as a tool of integrating at risk youth into the labour market (at risk youth in this module include NEETs and those still in school but at risk of dropping out).

This module will look at the following types of interventions:

  • WBL opportunities within formal education or training, including school-based programmes with short elements of WBL (e.g. internships and job shadowing) and programmes with more substantial WBL components (e.g. dual training, apprenticeships). 
  • WBL opportunities for NEET not within formal education and training (e.g. Youth Guarantee), these programmes usually combine some type of training (job-specific,  or basic skills, or job seeking skills) with work experience, and can be organised by public employment services or other entities (municipalities, non-profits).

The policy implications will be pursued: we will look at different design features, and which characteristics make interventions successful and cost-effective.


Key steps

A two-day workshop took place in July 2016 in Baltimore, United States and a discussion paper was shared with participants. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss how to design and implement WBL programmes for at-risk youth. It provided countries an opportunity to discuss the initial analytical work, share their experience and also to observe a set of different interventions – organised by the municipalities, schools, and the employment services, as well as non-profits – in the city of Baltimore. A policy report drawing on the discussion paper and conclusions from the workshop was subsequently published in December 2016.


Examples of policy questions explored

  • How to get the content right, so that the programmes meet the needs of both employers and learners?
  • How to encourage employers to give WBL opportunities to NEETs?
  • How to target measures to minimise substitution effects (in particular regarding jobs programmes) and deadweight effects? 


See also:




Back to the work-based learning home page

How the work is being conducted

Papers and reports

Contact the team







Related Documents