Getting Advisory Boards to Work For You

When done well, advisory boards offer tremendous value to your CTE program: They can help keep your program aligned with industry needs, help you identify the knowledge and skills your students need, and provide a connection to employers for work-based learning support.

But for a lot of educators, it can be hard to energize your advisory board. Many are passive, meeting the minimum level of activity required by the state, and forcing you to put on a “dog and pony” show twice a year that provides little value for anyone.

So how do you change that dynamic?

Remember that your board members signed up because they want to help; so let them! Find some important task you need done that’s appropriate to your board’s knowledge and skill set, and ask them to take it on. You pass that task to them, let them run with it, and have them to report back to the board in three months with their results.

As an example: Wouldn’t it be great to have a “State of the Industry” report to find out who’s hiring people in your program area? Whether that industry is growing or declining? What it’s going to look like in three to five years? Ask your board to find out and give you that information.

Wouldn’t you like to find out what a great job applicant looks like to your employers? Ask your board to research it. Ask them to find out what skills, knowledge, experiences, and certifications a great job applicant would have, both now and in three years. Let your board members do that work and report back to you.

Your board doesn’t have to be passive: Your advisory board members just need a way to get engaged. Ask them to act on a specific need, and you’ll have opened the door to a much stronger, and much more valuable relationship going forward.

Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions ( 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.

One thought on “Getting Advisory Boards to Work For You

  1. Robert Mauro (retired Supt./CTE Director) Kathy Schick knows me. says:

    Brett: This is a huge topic, one that is central to the improvement of CTE (which you mention above). PA CTE programs need a lot of work (in my opinion), but there is much to be done as we go forward.

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