College internships provide a crucial link between academic education and professional work experience. Strada Education Foundation, an Indiana based nonprofit organization that collaborates with students, policymakers, educators, and employers across the United States to strengthen the link between education and opportunity, recently released a study examining responses from nearly 60,000 college students to gain insight into work-based learning opportunity expectations and outcomes to support students in career preparation. 

Strada’s research found that 70% of first-year students expect to have an internship experience, yet fewer than half of fourth-year students report they have had one. While interest and participation levels vary by field of study, substantial gaps exist across all fields – with the largest gap between intent and participation found in Social Sciences, Business, Social Service Professions, and Arts and Humanities. Moreover, internship completion rates vary across racial and ethnic groups, with Black/African American and Latino/Hispanic seniors significantly less likely to report having participated in an internship. 

The study also revealed that senior students who participate in internships feel significantly more confident when communicating with potential employers, thus highlighting the need to identify challenges and access gaps. 

Importantly, the study did not include community college participants. In California, work-based learning opportunities are prioritized and promoted. Apprenticeships have proven to be highly effective in closing the skills, employment and equity gaps for Los Angeles students and working adults.  

Governor Newsom has set a goal of 500,000 earn-and-learn apprenticeships by 2029. California has achieved roughly 100,000 to date, so we know more must be done to scale the growth of registered apprenticeships. Earlier this year, eleven Los Angeles Community Colleges were awarded $11.6 million to expand our apprenticeship programs across our county by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.  

The Los Angeles Regional Consortium has also created a regional Apprenticeship Network called LAUNCH LA. LAUNCH LA leverages the region’s community colleges, K-12 districts, and Workforce Development Boards to develop programs and increase pathways into apprenticeship, both in traditional apprenticeships and new and innovative programs. 

By integrating apprenticeship into these local organizations and institutions, LAUNCH LA acts as an intermediary and valued resource for community colleges to break down institutional and systemic silos. When we work together to achieve our shared goals of bridging the gap between Los Angeles workers and high-paying jobs, we can accomplish so much more for Los Angeles County residents.