Preparing Teens for Success: Building 21st Century Skills through a 4-H Work-Based Learning Program


  • Theresa M. Ferrari Ohio State University Extension
  • Nate Arnett Ohio State University Extension
  • Graham Cochran Ohio State University Extension



There is widespread concern that youth lack the skills essential for job success and are entering the workplace unprepared. To address issues of workforce preparation, Extension educators at an urban 4-H education center created the Job Experience and Training (JET) program, a work-based learning program for teens. JET is conducted over a six-month period, culminating in an eight-week summer work experience in collaboration with a local park district. Supervisors and teens completed a performance appraisal measure based on SCANS workforce skills at two points during the program. Both teens and supervisors provided written comments addressing teens’ strengths and areas for growth, as well as comments on their satisfaction with the program itself. Overall, the experience appears to have produced improvements in teens’ workforce skills, as evidenced by their own self-assessment and that of their supervisors. We conclude with implications for conducting work-based learning programs.






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