Meaningful Encounters with the Workplace
1. What good looks like?
Students should have multiple opportunities to learn from employers and employees about work, employment and the Values, Attitudes, Skills & Knowledge (VASK) that are valued in the workplace. Students should also have first-hand experiences of the workplace to help their exploration of career opportunities, and expand their networks.
- School should provide students with different levels of workplace encounters opportunities, including:
Level 1: Observational activities
Ensure the students can observe the “actual working environment and the job roles” through the company tours/ site visits and employees’ sharing. Provide up-to-date labour market information (e.g. work operation, job nature, and entry requirements).
Level 2: Activities enabling students to understand and participate in different workplace roles (e.g. job tasting, job shadowing)
Help students experience the work processes and talent conditions of different positions, understand the actual operation of various industries, identify personal interests, values, attitude, skills, knowledge, and career development information.
Level 3: Activities developing students’ skills and knowledge in specific workplace contexts or in authentic environment of a specific career (e.g. internship, job placement)
Maximize opportunities for students to engage with and learn from employer and employee encounters. Students are allowed to engage in partnership with a mentor. Students can observe and understand their daily work, or taste the position required by the job in the authentic work environment.
- 90%2 of senior form students should receive opportunities to taste at least twice (one Level 1 and one Level 2 or 3 experiences) of workplace learning experiences that allow them to gain an understanding of the workplace in authentic environment.
- School should debrief or follow-up with students to relate each workplace learning experience to their career and life goals or action plans.
- 90%3 of students are provided with opportunities to interact and learn from employees and employers to understand workplace values, attitudes, skills, and knowledge (VASK) for further decision making.
- School should provide students with debriefing tools to facilitate their reflection and learning after participating in the workplace encounters.
2. Why this matters?
- First-hand encounters with workplace help students understand the skills needed and future pathway opportunities, which enhance their confidence and let them explore their career aspirations to make an informed choice. EDB (2014) highlighted that it is important to foster students’ knowledge and skills to make informed choice and manage school-to-work transition through career and life development education and career guidance.
- A quality workplace visit/ encounter gives students the opportunity to see a specific career in authentic environment, observe work processes and gain first-hand information from the staff. Students may also take this opportunity to investigate a topic, issue or problem related to a subject they are studying.
- Workplace learning experiences give students a competitive advantage. Through meaningful encounters in the workplace, students can develop essential or adult skills4 much more effectively in real work situations and gain important insights into their career interests, aspirations and VASK, which will help them with their future decision making.
- Structuring encounters with employers within the school curriculum could strengthen career aspirations and academic attainment as such collaboration between employers and schools would build a rich picture of world of work and get students well prepared to take up workplace opportunities.
3. Top tips for schools*
- Align workplace learning opportunities with your career team annual plan that matches the direction of the overall school development plan to foster students’ holistic learning. Progressive encounters with the workplace should be designed by school according to different grade levels and backgrounds of the students.
- Collect and consider students’ interests, needs and preferences of workplace encounters before designing relevant learning opportunities for them timely (e.g. at the beginning of the school year).
- Start with reviewing the existing school network (e.g. alumni, parents) or staff contacts to investigate suitable partners for co-planning and providing encounter opportunities or programmes.
- Set up different communication channels with key stakeholders (i.e. students, parents, enterprise partners) to make sure all parties have been briefed and are clear about the purpose of the encounters/ programmes and their responsibilities and roles (e.g. guidelines can be given to inform the students and stakeholders).
- Provide common contact point for the students and their parents for further enquiries on the workplace learning programme.
- Ensure students are well-prepared for the encounters experience by conducting briefing or meeting with them before the event. Apart from knowing the organisational matters, the preparation should include on how to frame learning so that students know what they can get from the experience. Both briefing and debriefing are important steps and should be built in accordingly.
- For Level 2-3 workplace learning activities: Consider risk management matters (e.g. legal liability) to ensure the safety and health of the students.
- Connect students’ workplace learning programmes to the school curriculum (e.g. understanding the qualities and job nature as a museum curator in connection to the learning of history).
- Work with internal and external stakeholders to identify appropriate time slots to arrange and deliver progressive sessions/ encounters which may link up with the school CLD curriculum, subject embedment, careers-related OLE activities.
- Compile a contact list of potential workplace partners (e.g. enterprise partners, alumni and parents) and contact the stakeholders timely to establish professional, healthy and sustainable relationship.
- Provide guidelines for mentors to share their working experiences, life story and information about job position as well as how to provide essential supports to the students throughout the encounters experience.
- Monitor the participation of individual students to ensure a balance between support for their current thinking and challenging them to explore new opportunities.
- Provide students with tools (e.g. log book/ learning journal) to record and document what they experienced in the workplace encounters
- Gather feedback from all stakeholders and students on the encounters to drive ongoing improvement and respond to the interests of all students.
- Conduct a debriefing to reflect and consolidate students’ understanding of the objectives, content, and learning outcomes of their encounters. Most importantly, to facilitate students to relate each workplace learning encounter to their personal career and life goals and/ or action plans.
- Facilitate students to record their learning and insights, track and reflection on workplace learning (e.g. using CLAP’s tools such as CV360®).
4. Working with partners
- Employers: Build connections and identify potential business partners to provide first-hand experiences, information about the industries, or workplace experiences (e.g., Work with partners to arrange an encounter programme).
- Employers: Communicate with employers to confirm details and make sure the frontline staff member understand the objectives, benefits and process of the encounters programme.
- Alumni: Connect alumni to formulate a potential list of business partners, make use of the list to link up the different network with workplace encounters opportunities.
- Serious Leisure Devotees: Keep good contact with different serious leisure sectors in the community for potential collaboration, to enrich students’ opportunities to understand or experience different developmental routes.
5. Insights gained from the pilot schools
- Support by the school to schedule school days for whole S.4 students to participate in the workplace learning programme which is embedded in the school personal growth programme.
- Check liability (e.g. insurance coverage) to enhance student safety to manage the risks involved in the workplace learning process. Collect necessary information from the placement organization, (e.g. tentative work schedule for the placement).
- Inform students the general criteria of the placement/activity matching (e.g., interests, knowledge, skills, and subjects taken, academic results of the students). Some workplace learning has pre-requisite or requirements. Schools should evaluate if the students fit the requirements and set matching guideline for colleagues. Inform students pre-interview may be conducted.
- For Level 3 workplace learning, assign a teacher representative to have face-to-face pre-visit at the workplace to check-in with the company to ensure encounters with employers and employees are well prepared. The teachers will follow up by collecting students’ reflection and evaluation of their workplace learning experience.
- Start from small scale (e.g. arrange placement for a small group of students) to gain small wins or successful story as evidence to influence policy and worth to scale up.
Education Bureau (2014). Guide on Life Planning Education and Career Guidance for Secondary Schools. Retrieved from
EDB (2017). Secondary Education Curriculum Guide Booklet 7: Life-wide Learning and Experiential Learning. Retrieved from
1 A meaningful encounter with the workplace – is one in which the student has an opportunity to learn and reflect through teacher (adult)
facilitation about what work is like or what it takes to be successful in the workplace.
2 In terms of school self-improvement process, schools are encouraged to set their own interim target (%) if appropriate and predict the
timeframe to achieve the BM standards.
3 In terms of school self-improvement process, schools are encouraged to set their own interim target (%) if appropriate and predict the
timeframe to achieve the BM standards.
4 Essential or adult skills: An internal assessment of adult competences under OECD measured some key skills in society and how they are
used at work and at home in the 21st century. More details are available at:
CLAP (2020). Practice Guidelines for Workplace Learning (Chinese version only). Retrieved from