Collaborate on Shared Issues
Knowing what your employers are interested and involved in can lead to greater engagement. Do they serve on, or lead, state, national, or international associations and organizations related to their industry? The issues around skills, training, technology, etc. are at the forefront of every industry association. Where will we all get the next workers? How can we connect with education to let them know what we need? What are some best practices from other members across the country or around the globe? These are the topics that interest all employers regardless of geography or industry sector.
The information that your local employer brings back from these associations can assist your college in developing programs that serve as models for the rest of the country. It also enables the employer to serve as a sector lead in the local market, asking fellow industry leaders to join in the important work of advocating for your college, its programs, funding, etc.
Moving from Partner to Advocate
This deeper engagement is far more reaching than one employer hiring graduates. It is about preparing a workforce that keeps your local economy lively and strong. It is about a group of employers being proactive and assisting the college with increasing its awareness and relevancy to the community it serves.
This broader level takes time and engagement typically at the corporate CEO to college president level and can lead to partnerships that provide opportunities across programs at your college. Keep in mind that manufacturers hire IT and business graduates, and healthcare hires accounting and facilities maintenance graduates. This broader perspective creates an ecosystem that crosses over program lines and truly engages the college with employers. Rather than being informed about one college program, the employer now is aware of the breadth of what the college can do to help the employer.
As regulations, formulas, and funding for education changes, colleges need their employers’ voices to advocate for the importance of technical education. When employers join you at legislative events, economic forums, and other advocacy opportunities, their voices carry greater weight than the voice of the college. Two-year public institutions were created to provide a career-ready workforce to local employers. Their voices need to be heard.
- Be respectful of your employers’ ability to commit time to an effort.
- Align opportunities with interests of an employer.
- Take time to explain, inform, and prepare any employer you would like to engage as an advocate.
- Discuss with CEOs and other top-level executives at local companies how they share news about their engagement with the college within their organization. Just as colleges must share information about the employers throughout the college, businesses must do the same.