Engaging Industry Partners During a Shutdown

Industry partnerships are vital to a truly successful Career and Technical Education program. Industry leaders have a grasp on workforce needs, industry trends and leadership ideas more than most, and educators have the listening ear of the next generation of the workforce. These partnerships best serve both parties when proven to be mutually advantageous. 

But what does this mean during a global pandemic? Just as most professional partnerships have been altered during this time of remote access, how do CTE professionals strengthen relationships with industry leaders? Remember, everyone is going through the same pandemic. While these changes are different from industry to industry, almost everyone has had to change something about their way of work in order to comply with new industry standards and state restrictions. 

A strong industry partnership is mutually advantageous, mutually resourceful. Have you reached out to check in on your industry partners? How has their workplace changed? Do they see permanent changes for the future? Is there anything you can do to help?

As my team really found our pace in securing industry partnerships across the city, spring break turned into summer break with little indication of a full two months of time flying by in between. In a large urban district, we are highly aware that our students need the security of identifying a career that will withstand and recover from the crisis. A large majority of our students live in multi-generational households that are relying on the student to find a job to help the family through the pandemic and thereafter. The importance of building a mutually advantageous industry partnership has not changed, but perhaps the focus has shifted to finding a pathway to future career opportunities together. 

Looking forward with a growth mindset, we know many districts, departments and educators are struggling with the quick transition we’ve been forced to accept – education is changing. While we have this opportunity to hit the hard reset button on parts of our jobs, we also get to finally change archaic systems and use the pandemic as the scapegoat. In the same way educators feel they’re floating through space waiting for direction, it’s safe to assume many (if not most) of our industry partners are experiencing the same feeling. 

If there is one thing we know our students will need jobs after graduation and our industry partners rely on a workforce. Whether a student plans to attend a four-year university, a two year technical program, or get on the job training, our students will need jobs. You can assure your educators and partners this aspect of the partnership does not change. 

Take a moment. Reach out to your industry partners. Use this time to strategically plan for the years to come.