A large piece of the gainful employment compliance puzzle is ensuring career colleges are doing everything they can to help students get jobs with local businesses after graduation. Sometimes though, local businesses aren’t aware that the career college in their own community prepares students with the exact skills their company is recruiting for. Make local businesses aware of the pool of skilled and qualified job candidates your school is producing with the following tips.
Start an Advisory Board
Assemble an advisory board of community leaders. Not only is it a great way to network, but your board can provide guidance and insight on community happenings — keeping your school in the know while keeping local businesses engaged with campus initiatives. Career college administrators can benefit from the information a group of local experts can bring in terms understanding opportunities, challenges and how the programs your students are involved in can help meet their long-term needs.
Not sure where to begin? Start small. Identify two to three leaders in the local community you want in your network. Then invite them to lunch on you. Make sure you outline in detail what you hope to get out of them and the benefits to them as well. The more you fill them in on the specific intent of the board meetings, the more open they’ll be to donating their time.
Partner with Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Partnering with your city or town's chamber of commerce is another great way to network and develop relationships with local business leaders. As part of their mission to serve the interests of local businesses, chambers of commerce often sponsor programs and events to help employers fill their need for qualified employees. These can include sponsoring career fairs, offering scholarships for students entering in-demand fields, supporting STEM education, providing soft skills training workshops, offering job shadow mentoring programs, maintaining internship databases, supporting young entrepreneurs and advising educational institutions on strategic planning.
Career colleges are natural partners for participating in these types of programs and events. You can also invite your local chamber of commerce to participate in your own programs and events. Find out what opportunities they are already offering, and use this as a starting point for networking, participating in existing programs and events and recruiting partners for your own programs and events.
Develop Internships Programs
Partner with local businesses to develop and implement internship programs. You’ll improve student engagement (students are more likely to focus and absorb information when they can apply what they’re learning in the classroom in a real-world setting) and provide them with valuable work experience (and perhaps post-graduation employment). In addition, the participating businesses and local community benefit by helping to develop a strong pool of local workers to hire from.
Extend your curriculum beyond textbooks and lectures by partnering with local business that naturally fit with your school’s programs. For instance, if your school offers a medical assistant training program then partner with local medical offices or if you offer an auto mechanic training program partner with a local garage. Then stay on top of voids those businesses may have that your students can fill. Make sure that students are receiving credit for the internship hours to encourage them to participate in the program.
You and the businesses can wrap up the the semester or school year by co-hosting a career fair for students, local residents and job seekers.
Invite Guest Speakers
Asking local business professionals to speak to a class on campus is a great way to nurture local connections. It encourages the business owners to tell you more about their needs and acquaints them with your careers school’s programs. In addition, it gives students an opportunity to get to know leaders in the local business community and it could provide them with job opportunities they otherwise may have not known about.
Invite business people who naturally pair with your school’s programs to tour the campus. Follow up with opportunities to participate as a guest speaker and make it easy for them by providing an agenda of discussion points. Be sure to prepare students for the guest speaker by encouraging classroom participation to increase the chances of a continued business partnership.
Like any relationship, fostering successful business partnerships takes time and nurturing. Start getting to know the business leaders in your community. As they get to know you and your school, they’ll be more apt to come to you to fill their vacant positions.
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