Frequently Asked Questions
Why do employers get involved with local schools?
Employers rarely get involved in their local schools for a single reason. One reason they may get involved is a general concern about the overall quality of education young people are receiving, and the desire to give back to their communities. Although employers get involved with local schools because their social conscience compels them to take action, most get involved to meet their bottom-line needswhich includes hiring and retaining higher-skilled workers. By preparing a qualified pool of young workers, employers feel they are contributing to the strength of our future economy.
How can schools engage employers?
Before going out into the community to recruit employers as partners, school personnel need to have a good understanding of their schools work and career development programs (e.g., a work-based learning program) and what it is that they want from employers. To effectively interact with employers, it is also important for these personnel to have a sense of their communitys social and cultural makeup, and knowledge of key business leaders. Better results will be achieved if school personnel can speak the employers language and understand their motivations. Once a partnership is established with an employer, the employers role must be clearly defined, ongoing communication must be established, and the employer must be provided with full support as they participate.
The degree of participation and commitment from employers can vary. Employers should be offered options for their involvement. Some examples might include:
- Worksite toursExposes students and teachers to a work setting and to an industry.
- School presentationsProvides information to students on a specific industry or on specific careers.
- Job-shadowingExposes students to actual work settings. The time spent at a work setting can range from one day to several weeks.
- Curriculum developmentProvides information to educators from employers on the skill standards required of a particular industry or occupational classification.
- Worksite placementsProvides opportunities for teachers and students to gain on-the-job experience. Typically, these experiences are closely coordinated with classroom curriculum and can last from a few weeks to several months.
What are the benefits of building partnerships with employers?
The educational opportunities for students are enhanced when schools
and employers work together in preparing young people. These partnerships
help to prepare youth for future careers, and increase the likelihood
of meaningful postsecondary education and employment outcomes for
students. In addition, partnerships between businesses and schools
ensure that schools use the most up-to-date industry standards in
the development of curriculum.
Why should employers and schools partner in the development of youth?
Schools alone cannot provide young people with all the experience, skills, and knowledge necessary to make a successful transition into adult roles. Partnerships between schools, employers and other community entities create a variety of learning opportunities for youth so that they may gain the competencies to fully participate in their communities.
Moreover, youth best acquire the skills and behaviors necessary
for successful post-school employment through participation in real
work settings while school personnel are supporting them fully.
Not only is there improvement in the school as a result of this
partnering, but also employers can increase their cost-effectiveness
as schools become more responsive to industry demands.
What are ways you can make connections with employers in your local
Often, particular school staff members are designated to make the connections between schools and employers for the benefit of individual students or groups of students. They may be work-study coordinators, transition specialists, designated teachers, or other staff similarly charged with establishing and maintaining contact with employers.
Many communities also have intermediary organizations that help to connect schools and their students to employers and community resources. Local one-stop career centers represent such organizations. These centers are comprised of a variety of public and private partners with the purpose of simplifying and streamlining workforce related services for both the employer and the jobseeker. For young people, the local one-stop career center can help connect their classroom learning with work-based experiences.
There are a variety of ways to connect with employers. Local chambers of commerce can provide access to existing business education coalitions in the community. Labor representatives can also be effective partners. Both these entities have an interest in the communitys workforce development and training, as well as a commitment to contributing to the education of young people.
How can involvement of employer partners be sustained over time?
First and foremost, employer partners need to be supported in their efforts. Not only do employers need continual follow-up and communication on their participation, but they should be recognized for their contributions. It is important to make employer partners feel that their efforts are not going unnoticed. This recognition can vary in form from award ceremonies such as a business breakfast to an article in the local newspaper or a national newsletter.
Most importantly, employers must see their return on investment. The best way to retain involvement and action from employer partners is to show them that their participation is producing young people who are skilled, educated, and involved in their communities.
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