The resources provided below can assist school leaders in developing and sustaining vibrant partnerships with business/industry employers and leaders. The materials were developed with support from the National Center for College and Career Transitions. The NC3T site includes a variety of articles, guides, and case studies to inspire and inform your work in building CTE partnerships.
A good place to start is the Benefits for Partnership guide that explains why effective partnerships are in everyone’s best interest. The Working with Business and Working with Educators guides are each tailored for a specific audience and give practical advice and perspectives for reaching out and bridging the cultural gaps between business and education. The Nine Strategies guide gives an overview of specific ways the business can partner with educators to improve CTE programs and benefit students.
Next, review some case studies to get a sense of how local business engagement works. Then can round out your thinking by reviewing other guides and articles that you find of interest.
Workshops and Training
For customized workshops/training to help you plan and develop your capacity for CTE/business engagement, contact the CTE TAC of NY.
Forms from the National Center for College and Career Transitions (NC3T) at the initial CTE Employer/Education Engagement Project 2013
- Partnership Process Guide
This Power Point was presented by Hans Meeder, NC3T, at the 3rd Annual NYS CTE Professional Organization Leadership Seminar on August 7, 2013, as an overview of the resources available to participants and their organization to use to increase business involvement. For a copy of the PowerPoint, refer to the Slide Decks.
Presentation by Brett Pawlowski, National Center for College and Career Transitions at initial CTE Employer/Education Engagement Project sites
Business Partnerships Articles
Some partnership initiatives just seem to “make sense,” like the mall that offers vacant retail space to host an alternative school. These types of natural partnerships take into account three factors that influence the strength, effectiveness, and longevity of the program in question. These factors are marketing environment, school environment, and community environment. By considering them up front, you have a much better chance of building partnerships that last.
For partnership leaders, the subject of measurement and evaluation can be an uncomfortable one. Some may care more about intangible measures of performance, such as personal observations of student engagement, or be more invested in how the partnership works (process) than in what the partnership produces (outcomes). Meanwhile, those who work directly with students may be skeptical of the value of the data being collected (as is often the case with standardized testing) or whether it will be used at all. However, by not tracking outcomes and assessing impact, you run the risk of working very hard on the wrong things with nothing to show for your efforts, thus alienating partners who want to see results for all their efforts.
It doesn’t matter how long your program has existed, there is always a need for new volunteers. Finding companies and individuals who are willing to volunteer time, staff, and possibly resources can be challenging. Where do you begin? How do you find them? How do you get them, prepare them, and keep them committed?
As you plan a partnership, determining which assets are available to fuel your program should be one of your first considerations. Yet too often, this step happens closer to the end of the partnership development process. There are two main reasons for this: either program designers are so focused on building a program that they don’t consider the role of resources in the equation or they’re focused on “pitching” a ready-made program. Each of these approaches ultimately limits the size and strength of your program.
Building a successful program is hard work: it takes vision, effort, and a sustained commitment to get it up and running. And once it’s in motion and producing the results you had hoped for, it’s easy to go on autopilot, slipping into maintenance mode while you look for other fires to put out.
But if you’ve got a successful program, autopilot may be the riskiest path to take. Programs have lots of moving parts, and over time, circumstances can change, resulting in the program slowly—or suddenly—becoming less effective or even unnecessary. For that reason, it makes sense for you and your advisory board to conduct regular strategic reviews of your programs.
It’s a common scenario: You meet with representatives of a prospective business partner and do your best to sell them on your program. You explain the many needs of the school or program, what their support could do to improve the lives and futures of your students, and how you think they could help. They nod a lot, thank you for your time… and then you never hear from them again. What happened?
The problem with this approach is that it’s based on two mistaken assumptions. The first is that yours is the only proposal that business partner is reviewing; in reality, the business is likely besieged by requests for support. The other mistake is to assume they understand what’s in it for them. Spelling out the return on investment (ROI) for your partner can make the difference between success and failure.
The following case studies are examples of how CTE programs are building vibrant partnerships with business in New York – partnerships that benefit the students, the schools, and the employers
Every year in New York City, film and television production generates over $7 billion and supports an estimated 130,000 jobs. The industry works with the city through the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and is supported by tax credits to encourage the industry’s retention and growth. These tax credits can be controversial with taxpayers, so the TV/film industry looks for ways to give back to the city and to locally source wherever possible.
In 2005, members of the New York Production Alliance approached New Visions for Public Schools, a nonprofit education group that supports 75 district high schools and operates a series of charter schools, with an idea for a high school that would connect students to industry employment opportunities. A team of industry professionals and educators defined how private industry and public education could collaborate to support a small, rigorous CTE school.
Today, the Academy for Careers in Television and Film (ACTVF) provides students with meaningful entry points into a range of career paths, including a “below-the-line” film and television production positions that are not usually included in high school programs.
Food and Finance High School is the only grades 9-12 culinary school in New York City, based in Midtown Manhattan on West 50th Street in Park West Educational Campus. A number of other schools in the city offer a shorter-term culinary experience, but Food and Finance is the only four-year culinary high school. Its name is meant to highlight both the culinary skills and business skills necessary to operate a successful food-based enterprise.
The school opened in fall 2004 with a ninth grade class. It now serves about 430 students, about 90 of whom are seniors. The program teaches culinary skills of commercial food preparation and the business side of the food service industry.
At the High School of Computers and Technology (HSCT), students take core academic classes and a sequence of computer-related courses focusing on computer maintenance and repair, web design, office software applications, and setting up and running data networks. HSCT opened in 2004 with ninth grade students and over time built up to a fully enrolled four-year program. HSCT is one of six small high schools occupying a five-story building that has been reconfigured as the Evander Child Campus. About 96% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
The Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers’ Enterprise (FAME) is an initiative of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board and a collaborative public/private partnership of regional stakeholders. The organization is focusing on efforts to “attract and grow the workforce talent in advanced manufacturing,” adopting the motto “FAME builds minds that make it.” FAME was started, in part, through the impetus of Mike Mandina, owner of Optimax, a growing optics manufacturing firm that was having a hard time filling jobs and had a large percentage of workers nearing retirement.
Launched in 1994, the New Vision Medical Careers Program is a one-year program that allows high school seniors to explore careers in healthcare through a partnerships with Rochester General Hospital, a large inner-city teaching hospital. Students participate in a rigorous academic program and gain hands-on experience in medical careers through four 10-week rotations in different medical departments of the hospital. This placement provides students with an in-depth look at the responsibilities of patient care in a health care facility. The New Vision program is offered through the Monroe #1 BOCES to students in partner school districts. It serves 20 high school seniors who apply to participate in the program.
Virtual Enterprises (VE) is an in-school entrepreneurship program and global business simulation. Based on observations of an instructional model in Austria of “practice firms,” virtual enterprises were launched in seven New York City public high schools in 1994. Since that time, VE has grown to be in over 500 secondary and postsecondary institutions in the U.S.
In VE, the teacher is a facilitator of a business enterprise. Students run the company and are assigned to work in different departments, typically Administration, Accounting/Finance, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and IT. The company and employees (students) comprise the virtual economy. The VE must find customers and provide services that other companies need in order to stay in business.
Westport Central School is located north of Albany in a small town overlooking Lake Champlain in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Westport has a seasonal economy, with its 1,300 citizens working primarily in tourism-related businesses including restaurants, retail, golfing, and boating. Several large marinas serve a great deal of boat traffic from Vermont and Canada. There is no local manufacturing base; most businesses are customer-service related.
Westport Central School serves 250 children in grades K-12 in a single building. Some employment-related classes are taught in the school, and students often take CTE classes through the Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington BOCES.
Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) is a BOCES located in Batavia, west of Rochester. It serves 22 school districts in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, and Steuben Counties and provides both instructional services and instructional support services to its partner districts.
GVEP works in a rural area with a large agricultural base. The region also has a manufacturing presence, with national and international firms such as Graham Manufacturing in Batavia and Oxbo International in Byron.
The Advisory Board is an essential component of any successful CTE program. It is a gateway to the business community, providing an easy way for business leaders to learn more about how CTE programs relate to their needs (and support you accordingly), just as it serves as a way for you to learn more about their needs so you can better prepare your students. This document provides information and guidance to design a board that works for your students, school, and community.
View the Sample Guidelines for Advisory Committee Meetings from JLHHO BOCES.
For business-education partnerships to survive and thrive, everyone in the partnership needs to identify the benefit that they gain from the relationships. This paper explains the benefits CTE derives from employer involvement, the benefits the business receives, and how students are the ultimate winners.
This guide outlines nine of the most common types of business/education partnerships used in CTE. Countless variations of each are already in place in schools across the country, but there are common features and prerequisites within each model. This document outlines them to help inform the development of your own programs.
Business partnerships are commonly understood to be a good thing, but partnership development often becomes one of those “nice to have” items on the priority list that you never quite have the time for. But there are good reasons to carve out the time to find and engage local businesses in your programs. For one, it goes to the heart of the mission of CTE: preparing students for the workforce. You need to know what employers need in terms of applicant knowledge and technical and employability skills. You also need to be able to provide students with real-world exposure to the types of people, worksites, and equipment they will find when they enter the workforce. Schools and programs that want to secure the resources they need are wise to look to private sources, like business partners, in order to thrive.
There are countless opportunities for businesses to get involved in their communities. With all of the choices available, it makes sense for them to consider the return on investment (ROI) each opportunity provides – and few opportunities provide a greater return to their business than working with CTE programs. Secondary, postsecondary, and adult CTE programs are preparing a highly skilled, world-class workforce with the technical expertise, work ethic, and employability skills that American business and industry need to remain globally competitive. In today’s high school CTE programs, students are being prepared for advanced training and college programs, not just to enter the workforce after high school. CTE students take several paths to postsecondary learning, including 2-year associate degree programs, 1-2 year industry-certification programs, employer-based apprenticeship programs, and 4-year baccalaureate degree programs.