Developing Your Program Introduction

Developing Your Program


Skills Alignment

Business and Industry play a key role in your college’s program development process. They are the stakeholders in a position to hire graduates but will only do so if you offer the skills needed in the workplace today and are planning for the future.

There is an education/business mismatch. According to reports from Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, 96% of college and university chief academic officers said they are extremely or somewhat confident in their institution’s ability to prepare students for success in the workforce while only 11% of business leaders strongly agree today’s college graduates have the skills and competencies that their business needs.

Benefits for All Stakeholders

Building relationships with local employers is an ongoing process and should constantly be refreshed by adding new employers, thereby, adding fresh perspectives to your current programs. The ability to gain insight from employers regarding the need for specific skill sets not only today, but in the future, ensures that your college will have relevant programs and increased placement rates for your graduates.

Colleges that ask their business partners to predict technical skills and engage in the creation of the curriculum to meet those needs will find that students, faculty, and the businesses themselves benefit. Many of these benefits stem from building and utilizing your business advisory structure in a productive and meaningful manner.

Students benefit in that business members feel ownership of courses, certificates, and degrees and are likely to seek your graduates. Since business members are engaged, your students are first to be considered for opportunities such as internships even before they complete their program. The engaged businesses mentor students, help with interview skills, and more.

Faculty benefit from the assurance they are teaching what businesses want. Additionally, business members make themselves available to be guest speakers and assist with recruitment events, on-campus and off. Faculty are alerted of trends in time for curriculum adjustment. Businesses may provide free or reduced-cost professional development for faculty or valuable externships.

Businesses benefit because their pipeline of workforce-ready job candidates is increased. They develop professional relationships with other businesses and with the college and gain visibility through scholarships, donations, and/or sponsorships. Businesses get to give back to their community in a way that makes a real difference especially if they know that their time is valued. Rather than being seen as a “rubber stamp,” all program work depends on the foundational knowledge of the business members.

There are a number of structures for business advisory committees especially when it comes to program development. The DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) process is a one or two-day storyboarding process that provides a picture of what a worker does in terms of duties, tasks, knowledge, skills, traits and in some cases the tools the worker uses. The information is presented in a graphic chart form and can include information on critical and frequently performed tasks and the training needs of workers. Many colleges use this process.

The Business and Industry Leadership Team, or BILT, uses job skills validation of basic Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) (a process originated in the US Air Force). It was first used in the 1990s at Richland College and also used in 2003 at Collin College. It is a modified DACUM process that takes 4-6 hours and can be used for any technical program – IT, Engineering, etc., at any size college. The process has been used successfully in rural colleges in Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and South Carolina and large college districts such as Maricopa in Arizona (10 colleges) and Lone Star College (89,000 students in Houston).

The BILT model is based on businesses co-leading college programs to identify the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities they want in graduates 12-36 months into the future.


  • Employers report they are more likely to hire graduates from programs for which they have curricular leadership responsibility
  • Employers will assume this role (and more) if
    • Their time is respected
    • There is a method for ensuring that their input is consistently and seriously considered by the faculty members
    • They consistently receive feedback on their recommendations

Higher Education's Work Preparation Paradox, Brandon Busteed, Gallup News, February 25, 2014,