Your Employer’s Network
How does your college acquire the resources necessary to run your programs? Technical programs often involve expensive labs and equipment that the college budget may not be able to support. Keeping up with technology trends requires not only a knowledge of those trends but the resources to update and acquire equipment.
Employers who are engaged with your program will be familiar with the equipment being used and will be able to identify areas where new or updated equipment is called for. Employers may recommend the newest technology, even if the equipment they use is older. This is because you are training employees for the future and should strive to provide graduates who know how to use the latest equipment.
Keeping 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. As you identify gaps between what your labs offer and what the employers expect, ask about ways the employers can help. Anything from connecting you to their suppliers for discounts to donating equipment can help in preparing your students, their future employees.
Employers can support programs through branding. This involves paying a fee for the right to attach the company’s name to a lab (for example). This arrangement provides many mutual benefits. The employer’s name is in front of students every day. This familarity encourages students to consider working for that employer when they finish their programs. The college is challenged to “live up to” the employer’s brand. This can lead to a new culture within the college.
Other resources may include sponsorship of competitions, clubs, and camps. These can be especially appealing to middle and high school students and can also be effective components of college programs. With the growing importance of industry-recognized credentials, employers may elect to cover the cost of assessments to alleviate the financial burden on students.
One way to keep faculty skills current is through externships, short-term worksite training programs. Externships provide opportunities for faculty to work in their fields, learn the latest technology and processes, and bring that knowledge back to their classrooms.
Working with your faculty, compile a “wish list” of equipment, materials, and supplies for your program. Include your foundation office in this process so they can help you identify employers who may have interest in donating.
- 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 relationships.
- Having your College Vice President or President engage with executives of employer partner companies can add clout and influence to these opportunities.