Your Employer’s Network
How does your college gain resource support for your programs? Technical programs, labs, and equipment require resources which the college budget may not be able to support. Keeping up with technology and equipment updates and upgrades requires not only the knowledge of those trends, but the resources to acquire them.
Employers who are engaged with your program will know the equipment being used and also be able to identify the gaps in equipment or technology. Through the program development process employers may stress that they want the college to teach the newest technology, even if they have equipment that is one or two generations older. Remember you are training employees for the future and should be providing an employer with a graduate that knows how to use the latest equipment.
Keep Programs Current
The balance of old and new and the challenges of college budgets should be discussed with your employers. Learn from the employers the types of equipment and technology that should be taught for your graduates to be valuable to them. As you identify gaps between what your labs include and what the employers expect, ask about ways the employers could assist. Anything from connecting you to their suppliers to obtain a possible discount to donating equipment (newer than yours) can be helpful in preparing your students, their future employees.
Some employers may be able to provide additional support through branding a lab (naming rights), for a fee. These funds may be used to purchase equipment and update a lab. This arrangement provides many joint benefits. The employer’s name is in front of students and will likely be an employer the students will want to get to know. The college must be aware that they are to ‘live up to’ the employer name and brand on their wall. This can lead to a new culture within the college.
Other resources may include support or sponsorship for competitions, clubs, camps, etc. This may serve as recruitment of middle or high school students, or clubs that are part of the college programs. With the growing importance of industry recognized credentials, employers may wish to sponsor the cost of the assessments to alleviate the financial burden on students.
One way to keep faculty skills current is through externships. Employers may provide paid externships for faculty for a duration of one or more weeks. This allows faculty to work in their field and learn the latest technology and processes and bring that knowledge back to their classrooms.
Working with your college’s foundation office, your department may prepare a ‘wish list’ of equipment, materials, and supplies, so they may reach out to employers based on their interests and garner a donation or a broader discussion.
- Not all employers are able to contribute at the same level.
- Seek out the interest of specific employers and speak to those interests as they relate to your needs.
- Be willing to invest time in cultivating the relationship.