The Milestone Tool for planning a work-based learning project will help any partnership that is developing work-based learning delivery methods of instruction. Moreover, this tool also has broader applicability to projects that seek to design new and innovative ways to educate employees.
This tool was developed in the context of Jobs to Careers: Promoting Work-Based Learning for Quality Care, which seeks to advance and reward the skill and career development of low-wage incumbent workers providing care and services on the front lines of our health and health care systems. The project is a national initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the Hitachi Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor. Jobs for the Future serves as the National Program Office for Jobs to Careers.
A key focus of the initiative is to test models of work-based learning at 17 grantee sites across the country. Each site has a unique way that it is delivering work-based learning, but across all the sites overarching principles guide their efforts.
Jobs for the Future developed this tool to help in a daunting task: planning and documenting the key activities and major milestones for each element of a work-based learning project. The tool breaks down program elements for the partners to fill in, along with accompa- nying timeframes for completion. This is a step-by-step process that will take the project through the planning and keep it on track throughout implementation, if used consistently as a project management tool.
To determine the efficacy of a project, planners must begin by deciding which data variables to measure. The partnership then needs to take that broad vision and develop a detailed plan for project implementation, complete with milestones and timelines for completion. The partners must try to predict where the barriers and challenges might occur so they can address them early in the process.
Careful planning is critical to the success of any project with many moving parts and possible barriers. Employers, educators, and other key partners collaborate to develop a vision for the project, along with a mapping out of outcome measurements of success.
The tool is a “living document,” intended to be revised on a regular basis. It includes key questions to provoke thinking about how to map out each program element.
Of course, this tool cannot include every possible issue, nor is it possible to predict all the possible circumstances or barriers that could occur within individual institutions. However, the guiding questions will start the planning team on items that arise when implementing a complex project.