Why have an advisory board?

Most states require their CTE programs to have advisory boards, as well as baseline requirements that educators must meet to maintain their programs. Unfortunately, there’s little training available on why you should have a board. As a result, many regard it as an obligation and not the opportunity that it represents. The educators who understand the value of advisory boards; however, gain significant benefits from their investment in building and managing an active board.

There are several ways in which advisory boards can support the ongoing management of effective pathways and CTE programs. These include:

Ensuring Program Relevance

Making sure that a program of study is aligned with industry expectations and needs is one of the core functions of an advisory board. CTE programs exist in order to introduce students to certain careers and industries. Preparing them to successfully enter those careers. Guidance from industry partners is a necessary and indispensable source of information. Making sure programs are sharing current and accurate information, and effectively relaying industry’s priorities and needs.

Assessing Program Quality

As employers – the people who will ultimately be hiring graduates from the program – advisory board members are perfectly positioned to assess the rigor and relevance of a program of study. Your board members can share firsthand information on their hiring expectations. Work with you to determine which of your curriculum and instructional efforts will help students meet those standards upon graduation.


Your advisory board is like your own personal Knights of the Round Table – a group of experienced professionals who are committed to your program and are ready to put their skills to work to ensure your success. Program leaders who try to put a positive face on their program, never letting their industry partners see their struggles and challenges, are doing themselves and their partners a disservice. Your board members want to be true partners and help you work through your problems so that you can all succeed together.

Providing Opportunities for Students and Staff

While most advisory boards don’t require members to participate in experiential education efforts as a condition for joining, it is a clear expectation, and a smart thing for board members to do. Like other employers, your board members want to develop relationships now with potential future employees. In a larger sense, want to make sure the pipeline of future workers to their industry is full. Participating in work-based learning activities is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

In addition to working with students, advisory boards also recognize the importance of keeping faculty and staff up-to-date on current practices in their fields. Making sure that educators have opportunities to experience the workplace firsthand. Through summer internships, site visits, professional development, pairing with industry mentors, and sharing current trade publications and other resources.


Your advisory board members are able to say things that you may not be able to say. Either due to modesty or regulations (such as advocating for bond issuances). As influential members of the community, they may also be able to speak to people you may not be able to reach directly. As such, they can be very effective advocates for your work, making people aware of your successes and highlighting the importance of ongoing support. In some schools or colleges, the advisory board is expected to provide an annual report to a governing body. In others, school leadership, such as a dean or superintendent, sits on the board to get direct feedback from community members.

Remember, advisory boards are not an obligation. They’re one of the most effective investments you can make in building program relevance and quality. One of the best channels for finding student and educator opportunities. Start building your board today!

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