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As it is national Colleges Week, I’ve been reflecting on how education providers and businesses are increasingly building links which generate good outcomes for both parties. There are plenty of ways that businesses can support the education sector with industry knowledge transfer, governance support and the co-sharing of facilities – all of which create a ‘win-win’ for everyone. As an FE College Group Board Member and Consultant, I’ve seen the advantages first-hand…

What are the benefits for businesses?

Supporting education providers isn't a one-way street. When businesses get involved with their local school, college or university, they demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility and get to build their employer brand.

Such partnerships can also offer development opportunities for employees, the cross-fertilisation of ideas and they can help with the recruitment of millennials and ‘young talent’ who are increasingly choosing employers with a social purpose.

Equally, today's socially-conscious buyers will often choose a supplier based on their CSR, ethics and broader role within the community and society, so this approach can lead to better profits too!

What can education providers learn from businesses?

Again, the benefits are many. Schools and colleges that work with businesses can learn from new commercial approaches - here are some examples:

Resource and cost management: Most companies operate with business models that strip-out costs and waste. Educators can learn from these commercial approaches to run tighter operations and allow their ever-decreasing funding to go further, whilst embracing digital transformation.

Commercialisation: Working with industry helps educators to identity new income streams that add to their offer and create a more sustainable future. I’ve seen some great examples such as colleges working with local business improvement districts (BIDS) or providing much needed services such as start-up hubs or nursery places for employers.

Staff management: Businesses often use best practice employee management and development tools for performance tracking through to retention. Educators can learn from these industry approaches and identify solutions to benefit their own operations.

Benefits for both parties

Mentoring: Business leaders are often keen to develop their coaching and mentoring abilities and will happily work with educational leads to share their knowledge, experience and expertise. Equally, employees can develop their own interpersonal skills by mentoring students, helping them to achieve their goals and broaden their work horizons. This can be a powerfully motivating experience for all parties involved.

PR: Local news outlets and customers alike are keen to hear about partnerships between businesses and education providers. It demonstrates community investment and shows parents opportunities for their children to gain knowledge in the business world. The PR opportunities can be attractive for both parties.

Joint projects: Some companies partner with local education providers to develop their employees’ skills, recruit apprentices or offer work placements, particularly where skill shortages exist. Joint projects can offer PR gains for both parties, profitable new areas of development and community benefits. For example, a business might sponsor a new course, help develop a new apprenticeship scheme or provide funding for new equipment.

In summary, the potential benefits for educators and businesses that work together are well worth exploring and something I’d highly recommend.
National Colleges Week takes place from 15-19 October 2018. Discover more at https://www.collegesweek.co.uk/ #LoveOurColleges

@ProwseBrowse