Happy New Year, everyone!
During the last two posts, I talked about the need for clarity in how we engage our employer partners, and I provided the first 10 of 20 easy strategies for engaging those volunteers.
Revisit my first Blog – Why You Need To Be Clear About What You’re Asking Employer And Community Volunteers To Do
Revisit my second Blog – 10 Easy Ways to Get Your Employer and Community Partners Involved and Enthused
Next, we’ll review 10 more activities, organized under three more of the five overarching strategies. These activities are addressed to your employer partner.
Strategy 3. Assist Students with Career or Leadership Projects
- Act as an expert judge. Volunteer to judge student projects related to your field.
- Act as project coach. Work with a team of students as they prepare for a project or skills competition.
- Assist Teachers with Career-Related Units of Study. Collaborate with a teacher(s) to create units of study or lesson plans that integrate authentic workplace activities and skills.
Strategy 4. Offer Experiences Outside of School
- Host student job-shadows. Prepare for and facilitate half-day or full-day student job shadows. Ensure that the experience is highly engaging and provides students with a wide-range of experiences and observations.
- Host student internships. Organize and oversee a student internship lasting from one week to a full semester. Student internships may be paid or unpaid.
- Host teacher externships. A teacher may reach over 100 students in the course of one school year and thousands over his/her career. Yet, many academic teachers have little experience in the world of business and industry. A strategic investment is to host teachers for a business externship allowing them to make connections between what they teach and what is expected in the workforce.
Strategy 5. Support Program Improvement and Advancement
- Serve on a program advisory committee. Provide school staff with up-to-date industry expectations and information. Most Advisory Committees meet two to four times each year.
- Act as an advocate. When career-related policy changes are needed or when funding is restricting positive change, employer partners can advocate their position to superintendents, school boards, state, and/or national policymakers.
- Collaborate in a new program start-up or in the restructuring of existing programs. New industries frequently emerge or move into a region, creating the demand for new programs in schools and colleges. At other times, industry sectors go through major shifts in technology and processes, and education and training programs need to be significantly modified. Business partners can raise awareness about the need for these changes and offer recommendations.
- Provide program resources. When employers are involved in technical and career-related school programs, they recognize the need for new equipment, additional consumable materials, and supports for student activities such as funding for travel to skills competitions. Employers who believe in the value of the program are often the first ones to step forward with offers of in-kind and monetary donations. If program resources are consistently underfunded, the real need is a policy change. However, for special projects and program improvement efforts, employers that see the win-win potential of a program often find creative ways to offer meaningful support.
Two additional thoughts to consider:
- Remember that when you’re thinking about employer partners, don’t limit your search to just private businesses. Non-profit social service organizations, health care providers and higher education providers (often part of the non-profit sector), as well as governmental organizations (military and civilian) can also be excellent partners for your employer and community engagement work.
- If you really want to dig deeper into how to effectively engage your employer partners, take a look at NC3T’s Employer Engagement Toolkit, authored by my good friend and colleague Brett Pawlowski. You can find more information about the EET here.