Face to Face With Industry

Last week, I was able to go out and lead a couple of workshops on advisory boards and employer engagement, both of which were really fun. At the second, however, something was different than my usual workshops – something I very rarely see when I talk about business-education partnerships:

Industry was in the room.

One of the participating districts strongly encourages business partners to lead its advisory boards, and several were with us. We talked about partnerships in general – effective advisory boards in particular – and it was wonderful. They participated fully, and were very forthcoming and candid as they shared their perspectives on how schools can work well with their business partners.

Looking back on that workshop, I started to wonder why we don’t see more situations like that. Not only are business representatives fully engaged as equal partners, but they’re attending training events to acquire more knowledge and skills on how to play their role in effective work-based learning and advisory board activities.

As you plan out your professional development activities for your CTE, career academy, and college staff, look for opportunities to include community partners in the mix. The perspective they bring is invaluable, and they just might learn some things that will help them improve the ways in which they support your students, staff, and programs. Ask them to share their perspectives, and where possible, act on the ideas they share so they feel heard and so that your programs truly serve as a reflection of your collaborative approach.

You’ll be sure to see not only better quality partnerships, but more engaged partners – an investment well worth pursuing.

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.

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