Businesses + Education = Competitive Workforce?
January 10, 2011 1:12 PM   Subscribe

What companies are working with education systems to ensure graduates have relevant skills?

My career interest is in the relationship between the private sector and the education sector: specifically, how private firms play a role in a community's workforce or human capital development.

Do you work for, or know of, companies that have close relationships with school districts or university systems, in terms of developing curricula and programs to graduate students with competitive skills? I'm particularly interested of examples of creative/innovative partnerships, such as a private firm working closely with a particular college course or department to solve a business problem. If you personally have done work in this area, I'd love to hear your experience with it.

Two examples I've read: UPenn's involvement with businesses and non-profits in West Philadelphia, and USC's heavy participation with its community in LA. I'm finding it much easier to source information from the perspective of the educational institution, so any examples from the private firm's perspective are especially appreciated.

Please assume that educating youth with the aim of developing their skills and knowledge to be successfully employed (self- or otherwise) is only one of several important educational goals.

Thanks for your help! I searched the archives, but I didn't find anything applicable to my question. One of my challenges in researching this topic is that I am more familiar with the terminology from the policy side, and less from the business side. If you have any thoughts about new search terms I should use, I'm all ears.
posted by emkelley to Education (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may be only tangentially relevant to your question, but undergraduate classes in art history and museum studies at Johns Hopkins University occasionally culminate with students mounting a special exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art or the Walters Art Museum.
posted by Nomyte at 1:28 PM on January 10, 2011

This might be more of a historical example, but do you mean something like Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute)? Or are you looking for more transient or less formal relationships between industry and education?
posted by twoporedomain at 1:34 PM on January 10, 2011

Response by poster: twoporedomain -- Fascinating! I had no idea. I'm looking for both examples, really. Glancing at the wikipedia article, it looks like Kettering is a feeder school of sorts, with a particular emphasis on automotive engineering etc. Similar institutions would be great to learn about, as well as smaller programs within a larger university. Basically, I'm looking for anything I can get my hands on. My knowledge of this is more focused on one international region--I really don't know much about US programs.
posted by emkelley at 1:46 PM on January 10, 2011

The Independent Petroleum Association of America has created several charter schools in Houston (ultimately funded by IPAA but notably Shell, Halliburton, Chevron, and others):

Milby High School - Academy of Petroleum Exploration & Production Technology
Pilot Program: This AP math/science magnet school provides 10th-12th grade academy students with Advanced Placement classes in engineering, geosciences, emerging technology concepts, as well as a 3 year exploration into the fundamentals of the petroleum industry. Halliburton provided this academy with $27,000,000 engineering and geosciences software grant. (220 students)

Lamar High School – International Baccalaureate Global Energy Management Institute
Lamar provides 9th-12th grade students a focus on engineering and Global Energy Management. This honors program focuses on global energy economics, geopolitics, history, as well as accounting, marketing and finance. Presently Lamar has enrolled 90 students into the program, with an additional 100 students added each year. In 2009 Lamar will expand to include a new engineering program. (180 students)

Westside Engineering & Geosciences Academy
This college preparatory magnet school provides 9th-12th grade academy students with dual credit classes in engineering, geosciences and energy related computer science systems. (150 students)

Southwest Academy of Petroleum Engineering & Technology
The AP math/science program at Southwest High School in Ft. Worth focuses on engineering, geosciences, global energy management and cutting edge technology. The first year targets “Fundamentals of Petroleum” which provides students an overall understanding of the industry as a whole. SAPET is another 9th-12th program that opened last year and has 100 students.

University of Houston has the Global Energy Management Institute, which is supported widely through most of the big Energy players in the US. They also have UH Energy, which gets many grants from Energy companies and government agencies involved in finding alternative energy sources.
posted by Houstonian at 4:13 PM on January 10, 2011

Associations of professionals often control, or strongly influence, accreditation of schools that qualify students for the profession, and exert great control over curriculum and standards for admission and graduation both through the accreditation process and by establishing the criteria for being permitted to take, and being found to have passed, examinations for professional licenses. Certainly the case for lawyers, architects, physicians and other doctoral-degreed health professions, although sometimes the academic segment of the profession has managed to carve out some autonomy from practitioners.

Looking beyond licensed professions, agriculture schools often see themselves as an explicit institutional partnership for both instructional and research purposes between their parent universities and the major growers, ranchers, and agriculture-industry associations of the state.
posted by MattD at 5:08 PM on January 10, 2011

The National Academy Foundation works with public high schools to create career academies in finance, IT, hospitality & tourism, and engineering. Lots of corporations sit on their national advisory board (American Express, Citi, Marriott to name a few), and each local academy has an advisory board of local businesses to help students. National advisory board members help vet the career theme curriculum, and local board members provide job shadowing, field trips, work-based learning experiences, serve on student project evaluation panels, etc.

You might also want to check out NCAC (National Career Academy Coalition) and CASN (Career Academy Support Network)

Disclaimer: used to teach in a NAF academy
posted by smirkette at 5:14 PM on January 10, 2011

Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is pretty much a feeder for car design.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:25 PM on January 10, 2011

I worked as a Systems Analyst (system administrator really) for JCCC. Many curriculums are made in consultation with advisory committees from outside the institution. The graphic design dept is fairly well regarded, for example. Nursing has a similar tie to local employers, to the point that nursing is basically it's own school with its own schedule (highly annoying on my end, but a worthy goal). Since you're looking for business perspectives, committee rosters like that are going to be good leads for people to talk to.

So advisory roles are one way. Another way is to actually send off professors on sabbaticals to work in industry and have them bring back goods. The late Randy Pausch did this and brought back some important perspective for ETC. Similarly, faculty have left to work on software engineering teams and come back with modern testing techniques to later integrate into coursework.

Another, often not considered way, is when employees leave companies to return to school. Plenty of Garmin employees return to my current employer, and they bring in tech skills and practices closer to the state of the art that maybe PhDs don't have.

Finally, I know that sometimes students are given service courses. I've seen a design program require students find and perform probono design work to help them get clients, portfolios and practice. I've also seen programming classes require students do projects for local businesses.
posted by pwnguin at 7:16 PM on January 10, 2011

I work for Johnson & Wales University in providence, RI. Our leadership prides itself on providing a college education that's aimed at people getting real jobs. For example, the Culinary Arts students get information about nutrition as well as learning how to make stock, and the Equine Studies students have a strong background of business training as well as riding.

It also means that students do two internships before they graduate.

I got a more traditional college education (B.A. in English), so I don't have firsthand experience of how it works...but in the I.T. department here we _have_ hired two of our own recent graduates, and they're sharp guys.

Not Curriculum Blue!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on January 11, 2011

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