Five Ways to Leverage Your Local College

by John Bonner, Vice President, Corporate & Workforce Training, Everett Community CollegeJohn Bonner

There is often a perceived disconnect between higher education and employers, but the need to work together to address the growing ‘skills gap’ is more urgent than ever. Here are five simple ways an employer can work productively with their local college and avoid ‘false-starts.’

1. Start now, not later
Even if you do not have an urgent need at the moment, take time to reach out to your local community college to understand what they have to offer. Many community colleges have skilled workers ready for hire, access to funding to pay for training, and professional development programs designed for industry employees. Contact your college’s business and industry liaison to schedule an exploratory meeting.

2. Expect quality
Do the college’s trainings align with recognized industry standards? Can they provide references of employers that speak positively of the college’s responsiveness, quality of service, and trainers? Does the college ask to work with you and your management team to tailor the training to achieve your company’s goals and ensure a strong ROI?

3. Communicate your ‘win,’ and listen to theirs
Your time, expertise, and resources are limited.  The same is true for your local college.  Be sure to share the full picture of what you would like to gain from a training or project.  Also ask your college: ‘How would you define success for this project partnership?’

4. Reward quality
If your local college makes a difference for your company, reward them!  Colleges benefit when you 1) give public credit for good work; 2) hire the graduates they helped train for your industry; 3) contribute your expertise to help keep their training programs cutting edge; and 4) include them in your corporate giving strategy.

5. Think strategic, not tactical
Chances are your local college desires a productive working relationship with you and would embrace an opportunity to work together as partners in meeting your workforce needs. Consider scheduling a meeting with college executives to discuss mutual goals and how to build together a long-term relationship based on trust and accountability.

Email us to find out how the Corporate & Continuing Education Center can work with your business.

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