Strada Education Foundation Awards BHEF $325,000 to Gain Insights into Employers' Perspectives of Work-Based Learning

The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) received $325,000 from the Strada Education Foundation to conduct in-depth research to increase work-based learning opportunities for college students.

College students greatly benefit from work-based learning (WBL) experiences—they gain foundational professional skills and valuable work experience, both of which increase their odds of securing a well-paid job after graduation. However, just half of college students complete a WBL experience, in part due to a limited supply of high-quality, paid options offered by employers. 

Moreover, research on employers’ perspectives on and experiences with WBL is limited, making it difficult to understand why the supply of WBL opportunities isn't greater. BHEF's research findings will guide employers, higher education institutions, and other stakeholders on strategies that can increase the supply of paid WBL opportunities. 

"The first step to creating more work-based learning opportunities for students is to understand the employer's perspective," said Jennifer Thornton, vice president of programs at BHEF. "What would incentivize them to create more of these critical opportunities for students, and what's holding them back? Based on their responses, business and higher education can work together to create a greater supply of WBL opportunities for all students."

BHEF's research will include a landscape analysis, focus groups, and a national survey of at least 500 employers. This approach will allow for a deep understanding of the nuances of employers’ perspectives on WBL and the incentives and barriers they experience, both internally and externally. It will also provide a statistically significant analysis of trends related to the value proposition of WBL to employers and their provision of WBL opportunities.

"By exploring structural elements of the WBL opportunities that employers currently provide, this research can help us broaden access and increase the diversity and representation of talent," said Candace Williams, director of regional initiatives at BHEF.

Results from the research are expected to be available from BHEF in late 2024.

The Business-Higher Education Forum is a 45-year-old nonprofit membership organization that connects higher education institutes to business talent demand. Corporate CEOs and university presidents join BHEF to anticipate skill needs and improve pathways between higher education and workforce. For more information, visit