New Memo Outlines Recommendations for Addressing Transportation-Related Barriers to Work-Based Learning Access

As a result of ongoing statewide efforts to develop and scale work-based learning for in-school youth, policymakers and practitioners in Illinois have engaged in conversations around barriers impacting student access to work-based learning. The Success Network Policy Committee, staffed by EdSystems in partnership with Advance Illinois and ISAC, convened a workgroup to explore work-based learning transportation challenges. The new and final memo, Addressing Transportation-Related Barriers Impacting Student Access to Work-Based Learning, summarizes the findings from our student engagement efforts and recommendations for addressing these barriers as a follow-up to Transportation-Related Barriers Impacting Student Access to Work-Based Learning (published January 2024).

The group’s findings and recommendations outline key considerations and approaches for addressing the previously outlined barriers, including:

Student Perspectives

The workgroup surveyed more than 600 current Illinois high school students to bring their voices into this discourse. The responses echoed some of the barriers outlined in the workgroup’s first memo, such as heavy reliance on private transportation, cost burdens, and inconvenience of public transit routes and schedules.  The student feedback also generated new insights into students’ underutilization of public transportation, when available.

District and Local Strategies

Districts will need to prioritize strong partnerships with both employers and local transit authorities to address transportation barriers. These partnerships offer space for innovation, allowing districts to address public transportation costs, think strategically about worksite locations and existing bus routes, and explore new formats for work-based learning.

Systems-Level Solutions

At the state level, agencies should consider ways to help subsidize transportation with more flexible funding. Additionally, state and policymakers should explore new ways to incentivize employers to partner with high school districts seeking to offer work-based learning. Connecting districts with employers and streamlining processes can pave the way towards developing new partnerships, which are key in many strategies for addressing transportation challenges.  Districts will have opportunities to innovate around some of the more rigid barriers with more flexible funding and support.


The memo includes resources and insight into best practices. These include resources from the Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network (I-WIN) and the Career Development Experience Toolkit that highlight a variety of innovative exemplars.

We hope this memo shines a light on important considerations and strategies that districts and communities across the state will hold in mind as they work to expand access to work-based learning. We plan to share this memo extensively among state policymakers and stakeholders, including the Illinois State Board of Education, the P-20 Council, I-WIN, the Success Network, and the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board. While the work of this group has concluded, our efforts aim to scaffold the work of other statewide organizations and committees, particularly the Illinois Workforce and Innovation Board’s Career Pathways for Target Populations Committee, as they explore how transportation-related barriers impact out-of-school youth.

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