Many stakeholders are important to the success of community colleges, but one stakeholder group is paramount: employers. In a thriving regional economy, the business and education communities share an understanding of the type, level, and quantity of skills and credentials needed by the workforce. Progressive institutions recognize that this alignment can only be achieved by truly engaging employers as strategic partners in postsecondary planning and action.
Community colleges often struggle to engage employers effectively, despite a long history of relationships with business. Engagement efforts frequently focus on convening employer advisory committees or conducting one-on-one outreach to businesses. In these cases, employers frequently end up offering tangential input or only providing insight and approval after decisions have been made about course offerings. Students then pay for an education that may not align well with the competencies they’ll need at work.
Community Colleges are recognizing the importance of more deeply engaging their business partners. How can colleges more deeply engage employers as strategic partners? Engagement is more than attending annual business advisory committee meetings or providing input regarding curriculum. Effective engagement requires building deep, sustainable relationships that ensure curriculum design and credentials meet the needs of industry sectors/clusters important to the region, and that students exit institutions able to demonstrate that they have the skills and credentials needed by business. Download and keep reading.