Summary of key steps for community colleges to engage employers and start to build a lasting relationship.

“This brief is part of a series that highlights key issues and best practices discussed at Bridging the Gap: Postsecondary Pathways for Underprepared Learners. Other topics include: working with employers to diversify their talent pipelines, support services to help low-income students succeed, and pathways for students returning from correctional facilities” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

This resource provides real world examples from practitioners, and includes suggestions for creating a lasting relationship with employers: Speak the Same Language – “study up on business concepts in advance. ‘Don’t speak education-ese, program-ese, service-ese…talk about what they’re talking about’” (p.2-3). Ask the Right Questions – “‘speak the same language’ is deeper than the words people use. Ultimately, it means understanding what employers need—the types of positions they are trying to fill, the technical skills required for those jobs, the professional skills preferred for all employees—and figuring out how to meet those needs by creating or modifying education and training programs” (p.3). Listen to the Answers – “be prepared to listen to employers explain their needs” (p.3). Make the Process as Painless as Possible – “employers drive the training process. When a company needs employees with certain skills—say, 30 welders—the business outlines exactly what they are seeking and the agency develops a program tailored to the employer’s needs” (p.3). Be Nimble in Meeting Needs – “when the area’s largest aviation employer, with 10,000 employees, told the college earlier this year that it had to slow down on hiring for a while and would ramp back up in early 2016, the dean agreed not to run a particular certification program in fall 2015. Neither wanted to flood the market with people with a certain credential who then would not be able to get a job” (p.4). How About a Money-back Guarantee? – “if an employer hires a STC graduate and ends up dissatisfied because the training did not meet the company’s needs, the college re-trains the individual for free” (p.4). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)