Elective Work Experience Courses and Workplace Safety Policy
Date came into force or revised
Elective work experience courses are monitored by schools and usually offered as part of a career program. They go beyond the work experience or community service component required by Graduation Transitions (PDF). Those involved in work experience electives must follow required steps to address workplace safety for students.
Rationale or purpose of policy
This policy clarifies elective work experience courses that extend beyond the 30 hours of work experience and/or community service required for graduation, and provides important information about Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) coverage. Work experience or community service required for graduation is covered in a separate policy called Work Experience or Community Service Requirement for Graduation.
See Ministerial Order 237/11, the Work Experience Order.
Policy in full
Work experience is defined in legislation as "that part of an educational program that provides a student with an opportunity to participate in, observe or learn about the performance of tasks and responsibilities related to an occupation or career." The goal of work experience is to help students prepare for the transition from secondary school to the world of work, and to help students connect what they learn in the classroom with the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed in the workplace.
In order to be reported as a Ministry-authorized work experience course, the work experience must be supported and monitored by the school and consist of authentic workplace experiences.
In most cases, Ministry-authorized work experience consists of school-arranged, non-paid placements. Exceptions include Secondary School Apprenticeship, other industry-training work programs, and individual situations in which a student's paid employment coincides with the student's career plans and is supported and monitored by the school.
All students participating in elective work experience courses must have in-school orientation to prepare them for the workplace. The orientation must include instruction on worksite safety awareness. It may also include topics such as generic employability skills, education skills transferable to the specific work placement, worker rights and responsibilities, and employer expectations.
A 4-credit course consists of 100 - 120 hours of work experience. A 2-credit course consists of 50 - 60 hours of work experience. These hours may include in-school time spent on specific workplace orientation and workplace safety instruction.
Boards of education that wish to develop their own credit-based work experience courses not based on Ministry guidelines for work experience must ensure that these courses meet the requirements for Board/Authority Authorized courses.
For school-arranged unpaid work placements there must be a signed Work Experience Agreement form that includes all of the following:
- name of the employer
- location of the work site
- the period (by date and time) during which the student will be participating in the work placement.
A sample Work Experience Agreement Form can be found in the appendices of the Program Guide for Ministry-Authorized Work Experience Courses (PDF).
WorkSafeBC coverage is provided by the Province for work experience students who are 14 years of age or older, providing the four following requirements are met:
- The work placement is a non-paid.
- It is a school-supported placement at a standard worksite.
- The student has received instruction in workplace safety before going on the work placement.
- A Work Experience Agreement form has been signed by all parties.
Students who use paid employment that is supported and monitored by the school to earn credits for elective work experience courses must show that they are working at a site where WCB coverage is provided.
Boards of education must establish guidelines respecting the conduct, supervision, evaluation and participation of students in all school-arranged work placements. School personnel must monitor each student on a school-arranged work placement as determined by board guidelines.
An educator with a valid teaching certificate must evaluate all work experience courses and assign a percentage before reporting it to the Ministry for course credit. Evaluation should be based on clear criteria and should include a variety of assessment strategies
For more detail, see the Worker’s Compensation Coverage Order.
Procedures related to policy
In reporting Ministry-authorized work experience course completions to the Ministry, schools must use the appropriate work experience course titles and codes found in the online Course Registry or in any future Work Experience Program Guide developed by the Ministry.
When schools arrange work experience placements at new work sites, safety issues should be discussed with the employer. In conjunction with the WCB, the Ministry has available a Safety Checklist template to use for work experience placements. It is found in the appendices of the Program Guide for Ministry-Authorized Work Experience Courses (PDF).
Any injuries sustained while on a school-arranged unpaid work experience placement must be reported as soon as possible. A WCB injury report (Form 7) must be completed by the school district or Independent School Authority and submitted to the nearest WCB office. A copy of the WCB Form 7 and of the Work Experience Agreement form must also sent to the Ministry of Education.
Monitoring of students on work placements should consist of work site visits and phone calls or emails with the student's workplace supervisor.