I wanted to share a story about Charlie, a 62 year old technician from a large Fortune 20 telecom company. At the time, Charlie told me he couldn’t retire soon because he recently took custody of his grandson. So Charlie signed up for a Community College certification course through his company that was customized program to help install, troubleshoot and connect computers onto the company’s new fiber-optic network. This was a 16 week class, meeting 2 days week for 3 hours per session. It was both a theory and hands-on based class.
I met Charlie when he registered for the program and I constantly checked in on the class to see how the class was going and how Charlie was doing. Well, Charlie loved the course and his instructor told me Charlie was the best performer in the class, always arrived early and most of the time took all of his computer equipment home with him. Also, his positive enthusiasm towards learning actually was infectious throughout the whole class. In fact, the instructor wished he had his on-going energy and positive outlook!
At the end of the training, the college would celebrate with a small graduate ceremony. We would invite both the college’s senior staff and the client’s staff to congratulate the technicians for the successful completion of the program. Each person would come to the podium to receive their certificate of achievement.
When Charlie’s name was mentioned, Charlie walked up to the podium and asked if he could speak a few words to the audience. Charlie spoke about his grandson being in and out of juvenile detention centers, nobody caring for him, always in trouble and never was interested in anything. When Charlie was bringing his books and equipment home, he noticed his son started to take an interest in what he was doing. He started learning about computer hardware, operating systems and networking with Charlie. He stopped going out and started to work with Charlie in repairing and maintaining computers…
In registering for this course, Charlie, never in his wildest dreams thought his grandson would have any interest in computers and he was so proud of how a course like this helped to create a wonderful bond at this stage of his life! This meant more to him than the actual training and certificate he received.
Today, Charlie is semi-retired and works for his grandson who owns a computer repair and maintenance store in Tampa, FL…
Our colleges play an important role in educating our students and adult learners. There are four (4) groups of people that higher education positively impact:
- Young people who are coming out of school looking for good jobs.
- Unemployed people that have learned a new skill and are looking for good jobs.
- Under skilled people who have improved their credentials and are looking for good jobs.
- Incumbent workers who are currently employed and are trying to grow into a better job.
All four (4) of these conditions revolve around the student, higher education providers and the hiring customer (i.e. employers, organizations). It’s sort of the “build great programs, educate students and employers will come.”
We found out in some cases this is true, however in most cases it is not. In today’s competitive environment, students and adult learners are being consulted by colleges and workforce agencies about the degrees and certifications that will lead to more or better jobs with employers. Yet employers are not participating in the process and many aren’t even aware about the talent that is available. This could more of a marketing problem than it is a talent problem.
For example, when we get the opportunity to talk with employers or organizations, most of them aren’t aware of the college’s capabilities and how they can help them achieve their company goals and objectives. Below are some of these capabilities that employers are excited to meet about:
- Workforce Development – Only 24% of the employers we surveyed in 2016 are familiar with workforce development, contract training and continuing education programs. They want to know more….
- Online Programming – Larger enterprise employers are constantly looking for cutting-edge, interactive online programs – programs they can license with and make available on their Learning Management System (LMS). They want to know more….
- Co-Branded, Instructional Design and Curriculum Development – Employer’s need good curriculum designers especially for new, state-of-the-art products and services. They want to know more….
- Foundations – What a great way for employers to get involved and contribute to a great cause – Educational Scholarships! They want to know more….
- Job Recruiting – Believe it or not, most employers we talk with are not aware of things like job fairs, employer recruitment pools and who to contact. They want to know more….
- Employer Tuition Assistance – For those employers who have tuition assistance programs, many colleges and universities are not participating and many are not aware that non degree certificates may be part of these programs. They want colleges to participate…
- Federal, State or Local Workforce Training Grants – For employers or students that need assistance, most are not aware of what is available to them and how to apply.
- Events – When we talk with employers about college hosted events, many want to participate and sponsor. They want to know more….
Put the power of your college to work and ask us how we’re helping some of the world’s most successful employers and organizations engage with their colleges and universities – and how we can help to do the same for you.
General Dynamics, NYC Department of Corrections, Interactive One, Verizon Safety and Environmental Health, Nestle Waters, The Highlands, Regional Transportation Authorities, Foursquare, Equinox, B-Reel, CPXI, Coca-Cola, Avtron Aerospace, Hyland Software, Jergens, Vitamix Corp, Forum Energy Technologies, Lasco Enterprises, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., Valero Energy, CST Brands and many, many more….
When employers think of a Community College, they usually think of a place for a student to receive a quality two year education at an affordable price. My experience talking with business executives about colleges in their local community is almost always favorable – “I received my 2-year degree at a community college or my son or daughter received their 2 year degree.” Employers know what community colleges do in benefiting a student’s academic needs in the communities they serve.
What many students and employers are not aware of are how community colleges can directly impact their career development and business performance. Community college capabilities include customized employee training programs, continuing education, lifelong learning, access to business grants, tuition assistance planning, co-sponsoring events, being a foundation board member, participating in student – employer pools, career fairs and many other value-added partnership programs. All of the above help employers improve efficiencies, employee morale, exposure in the community and most importantly, their bottom-line.
Marketing budgets can be a challenge and resources can be limited for community colleges, however below are eight (8) cost effective tips to rethink your marketing and business outreach efforts:
Testing and Analytics – Stop guessing if you need a new website or if you can improve your existing website. Employer and student first impression of you website can ultimately impact engagement and conversion. Always test and analyze your design structure and navigational flow of information. The benefit of continuous testing and monitoring is more practical and less expensive rather that making major overhauls.
LMS Analysis – If you want to make an employer feel like a strategic partner, they must feel that way across all departments in the college. For example, if they invested in your foundation, you better make sure you treat them well if they’re interested in Contract Training. This builds positive employer awareness of the college and you’ll see more of an investment in other programs and services that you provide. Analyze the feasibility of communicating between your website – automation – LMS.
Make it easy to reach you – If an employer is viewing your website about something they’re interested in, automate their interests to the right person or department. I remember one employer accessed our main website who wanted a corporate group leadership program and it took 4-5 attempts until they found the right sub domain address…. Also, if they send you a lead form, return their request by the end of the day.
Be proactive – Don’t wait for an employer to contact you. Be proactive, send 4-5 blogs, videos, campaigns, events, sponsorships and or news every week. In today’s competitive market, you can’t wait until someone contacts you. Take advantage of your good reputation, you are special and employers love to hear from your college and learn about what’s new and how you can work together.
Get employers involved, for free – Ask them to volunteer for events like Kids College Day, Lunch n Learns, Advisory Councils, Speaking engagements. Employers enjoy giving back to the community and sharing a day with college students and faculty.
Brainstorm with Employers – Brainstorm and think of cross promotional ideas to present to the community. Finding that synergy between business and education that really taps into community trust and involvement.
Reporting and Measurements – Are you effectively driving SEO traffic to your website, are you converting that traffic, are you registering more students? During your requirements gathering, your goals need to be identified, measured and reported.
Go Mobile – More and more students (Gen Z & Y) and employers are going mobile in their interactions and expect the same from their educational partners. Make it easy for employers and students to connect, register and learn through mobile applications.
Community colleges need a flexible website that will allow them to attract more employers and students, update content easily, provide a great mobile experience and give them insights behind their course registrations, enrollments, campaigns and events.
The Learning Strategy has been working with colleges and employers for 15 years and we look forward in using our experience in optimizing community college websites, coordinating and building partnerships between our colleges, businesses and the workforce investment system – creating pathways in workforce improvement, student internships and job placement.
bHarmony – Happy Valentine’s Day!
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I only thought it to be appropriate to discuss the bHarmony concept – a service concept within the business industry to combine a scientific and human approach connecting colleges, businesses and non-profits together. The bHarmony idea is based on both the buyer’s and seller’s interest.
Traditional Internet search can be challenging for organizations who are looking for customized solutions. But bHarmony is not just a technology platform. It should be converged with your human network in meeting and contracting with organizations who want and many times are excited to meet with you! What does that mean?
Japan calls it a “keiretsu” a family of businesses and organizations. These families may include a college, a manufacturing company, a bank, a transportation company and distribution companies that develop plans to conduct business with one another. Keiretsu – strategic partnerships among several companies and organizations rather than between just two. We help to bridge those relationships together. Jeff Roth, President
The bHarmony concept are organizations that are committed to find, select and approach new customers every day… With over one hundred thousand businesses, colleges and non-profits, we are confident there are plenty of needs and wants.
bHarmony starts by narrowing the field of thousands of leads to determine a select group of potential ideal customers with whom you can build a quality relationship.
Establishing bHarmony is more comprehensive that just a leads database or CRM system, and we believe our success speaks for itself. When you define and select student and/or prospect characteristics and match them to your ideal customer profile, you will increase those relationships using targeted valid business reasoning, applying thought provoking content/creative and digital marketing by standing out in the “eyes of the beholder.” Sounds simple, but it’s harder than you think.
So on Valentine’s Day start finding, selecting and meeting with someone who you want to develop long term relationships with.
The Admissions Perspective: How Academic Leaders Are Facing a Continuously Changing State Of Admissions is based on the survey results of enrollment leaders at four-year, not-for-profit Higher Educational Institutions. These fall into a selected group of classifications developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement Teaching. Maguire Associates, of Concord, Mass. invited random samples of enrollment leaders, and in both 2014 and 2015, 15 percent responded. The data collection took place in July 2014 and May 2015. College Enrollments
How concerned are you in improving your admissions process and the value of your institution? What are the top challenges facing your admission officers and enrollment managers?
These are serious questions that are identified in the study and can greatly impact the engagement, enrollment and retention of student (especially Gen Z & Y) services.
You would think the one sector in promoting Thought Leadership would be in higher education. There are so many important events, trends, practices in higher education and training that can help a student or business in the present, offer perspective and provide actionable (a call to action) advice that can have a significant impact on our everyday lives.
Thought Leadership in action can help to communicate actual experiences in the classroom in providing insights to future students and customers about how to overcome their most pressing problems. When you solve problems in the classroom, it enables you to communicate these valuable experiences to your prospects and customers.
How does Thought Leadership bring you new opportunities? The science to attract students and business can also be a great benefit for your college. A reputation of being a “thought leader” means more potential learners and businesses will look to you first, people will find you! Your programs and services can compete on more than tuition or price – your expertise and brand acts as a differentiator. It also encourages more interaction with your new and current students in solving new challenges, creating new opportunities and develop new educational products and services.
How do you get started? It really just starts with a thought. Think of a classroom situation, a success story, an interesting topic, an experience, an observation or intriguing research. Write about it on your website blog and start sharing on social media to promote and build influence. If you want to get sophisticated, hyperlink something you offer that relates your article and your audience. Create an optional lead form, score it and have someone from your organization (or ours) follow up and measure your success (i.e. website traffic, inquiries, conversion rate). Bottom line: Thought Leadership can be the basis to help you to start a “warm” relationship that can lead to a valuable appointment and project!!!!
Build a Communication Strategy by getting a team (yours or ours) of trained content provider and be consistent by setting content calendars weekly. This provides you a great forum of what other people say about you, what you say, what you write and getting found when students are looking.
Interesting and current topics on your website will always depict you as an agent for change in higher education, what’s hot, what’s not, what’s new, what’s exciting, what’s significant and being a problem solver. Thought Leadership also serves as a learning tool in guiding students and customers to diagnose problems and situations from symptoms and helps them to prevent problems from occurring. As a result, they will look to you first for their high value problems or needs.
Being a Thought Leader in higher education brings value to your college and university. Your student and customer audience learns and respects you, you get called first, you compete on more than price, it provides you new opportunities, you become more interactive, and you learn more about new offerings. Try it and watch it work!
Jeff Roth @The Learning Strategy
What does the Trump victory mean for education? Right now, all we can do is speculate. There are some things we do know, however. Education will not be a near-term priority. There are just too many critical issues for an administration that intends to usher in policy shifts on the economy, healthcare and immigration, for starters. That means within a few broad parameters, the Department of Education will be on its own for a while, as larger policy issues are resolved.
The new Trump presidential transition web site is short on details, no surprise this early in the planning process. About education, the site states that, “The Trump Administration will advance policies to support learning-and-earning opportunities at the state and local levels – where the heart and soul of American education takes place. We will accomplish this goal through high-quality early childhood education, magnet schools, STEM or theme-based programs; expansion of choice through charters, vouchers, and teacher-driven learning models; and relief from U.S. Department of Education regulations that inhibit innovation. A Trump Administration also will make post-secondary options more affordable and accessible through technology enriched delivery models.”
This reinforces the few things we do know; that choice will be a central theme, along with early childhood education, and that federal regulation will be limited. Back in September, candidate Trump proposed a $20 billion block grant that would expand school choice for low-income students. Existing federal education funds would be redirected to pay for the block grant, with control left to the states to decide whether the dollars would follow children to public, private, charter or magnet schools. At the time, Trump did not specify which federal funds would be redirected, but given the magnitude of the program and its emphasis on making choice widely available to low-income students, it seems likely that Title I dollars would make up a substantial part of the funding base. Congress likes choice and it has flirted with making Title I funds portable before, but even in a Republican controlled Congress a $20 billion program coupled with a significant shift in traditional Title I focus and funding could be a hard sell.
It also seems likely that the Trump administration will be friendlier to the for-profit education industry, particularly those in the higher education sector promoting more competition – less regulation between for-profits, public and private higher educational institutions. You can expect to see a pull back on the gainful employment and borrower defense to repayment rules. It will be interesting to see when the Trump administration comes down on open education resources and the Obama administration’s distaste for educational publishers.
The Department of Education is focused on finishing the various rules and regulations related to ESSA implementation and supporting the initiatives dear to the Obama administration. But it must be disheartening to know that much of this most recent work will be rescinded or ignored. Decisions about policy and implementation will probably be firmly in the hands of the states and federal oversight will be pretty light. It’s unlikely that the Department of Education will be abolished. It’s very likely that it will be downsized and that many new appointees and hires will be new to federal government and drawn from outside the ranks of traditional education practitioners.
Meanwhile the business of education must go on. We’ve already seen a few ugly incidents so it’s important that we learn how to talk and listen to one another. Teachers are at the forefront of helping their students learn how to have a civil discussion. More than ever, Businesses and Higher Education will need to collaborate to help to ensure the skill gaps meet the needs of current and future job growth. It starts with a meeting and a discussion between businesses and higher educational institutions. This is exactly what we help to facilitate. With more competition and less regulation, we think it’s especially important to help both business and students expand the places where they seek information and so that they get more adept at evaluating and selecting educational programs and providers.