I sat silently observing an assembly of 12 grade students, and pondered how adequately we have prepared them for the global corporate environment. How focused have we been in ensuring what they receive in our schools is applicable and relevant to the corporate landscape?
A 2017 US workforce study revealed that while 96 percent of high schools, colleges and universities believe their institutions are very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the workforce, only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree. Translating the theory of marketing, accounting, education, medicine and every other discipline into practical application has been the age-old struggle for generations of employers and employees. How do we set students up for success so that they can complete degree programmes that lead to promising career paths, and cope with the demands of their actual tasks?
This week we focus attention on common strategies for building partnerships between employers and educators that will help students enter the workforce and develop their careers.
1 Work-based learning: One successful strategy is to embed work-based learning into classroom and out-of-classroom experiences. Gallup research has found students who go on internships, where they can apply the knowledge and skills learnt in the classroom, are more likely to find full-time employment after college and be engaged in their work.
Work-based learning can happen on-campus as well, such as project-based or simulated experiences that take place on the school premises. Maximising the number of students who have the opportunity to participate in work-based learning requires a greater number of options and touch-points over the course of a student's education. Every company should have a direct line of contact with guidance and career counsellors, as well as college student advisors.
2 Career services: Education leaders ought not to think of the student as the only customer of their work. In some ways, employers are just as important in identifying ways for how post-secondary training can lead to a good job.
Teachers brought on to career development teams need to create opportunities for long-lasting relationships with employers to benefit the students they serve. In addition, staff need to be intimately familiar with what is happening across industries, including labour market information and what it reveals about in-demand jobs.
3 Better information: Students are often not made aware of the intricacies and specific work attached to their chosen careers. The glitz and glamour of professions such as medicine, accounting and the law might become less attractive if local associations governing these professions provide detailed information exposing the unpopular aspects of the work. In order to better align higher education and the workforce, businesses and education institutions must partner to ensure that graduates enter the workforce prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.