Mining for Deeper Engagement
Employers as Resources
Student recruitment directly impacts enrollment and is therefore one of the most critical factors in college funding. Some colleges see recruitment as the work of their admissions or student services departments. Many see it as the work of every college employee. However, few see employers as part of the recruitment process.
Through employer engagement you learn which employers hire your graduates/completers and which are involved in your programs, activities, and scholarships. Employer engagement is the best testimonial for the work you do and the relevancy and rigor of your programs.
Prospective students want to know what their career options are when they finish their degrees. Employers who offer job shadowing or facility tours help students to see those options and thus can be a vital asset in your recruitment efforts. Students who can see the work environment and talk to others in their fields of interest are more likely to connect your college’s program to the careers they are seeking.
Engaged employers are more likely to refer their incumbent workers to the college for upskilling. Recognition of strong employer partners demonstrates gratitude/appreciation to these employers and entices other employers to up their game in partnership efforts.
Ramping Up Employer Engagement
Asking employers to come to the classroom to discuss work-based learning options such as internships and apprenticeships and/or serve as guest speakers will help them feel more connected to the program and the students.
Staying in contact with employers about the expertise of your faculty helps them to see the depth and breadth of available training opportunities for their incumbent workforce. If they are aware of your program and engaged with your college, they will make their first call to you rather than to other training organizations.
Employers who participate in career fairs, mentor students, provide data on skills needed today and in the future, share their projected hiring needs, and hire graduates should all be part of the college’s recruitment strategy.
The ultimate connection is the hiring of your graduates and providing feedback on their skills and abilities. This helps to continually inform your program. Co-leadership in the program development process, donations of in-kind or financial resources, and broader involvement in advocacy and other initiatives raise the employer’s engagement level and make your college more attractive to prospective students.
- Employers may not be aware of how to start an internship or apprenticeship program. Provide them with resources and refer them to other employers who may already have systems in place.
- Employers have expertise in specific content areas. If you invite them to be guest speakers in your classroom, provide adequate lead time for them to prepare and discuss expectations.
- Employers may not have the time to write a testimonial, so pair them with your college’s marketing department for a brief interview. Write the testimonial based on the interview and allow the employer to proof and edit before endorsing it.
- Ownership and buy-in of the engagement process are critical on both the college and the employer sides. If the program is not aligned, employers are not likely to hire graduates, attend career fairs, or be advocates for the college.