First, they need to improve communication and understanding. I think what happens is companies talk to education institutions and say, “We need this,” and they express what they need in their companies’ terms. Then educators say, “Okay, yeah, we can help you solve that problem.” But the education institutions are defining the problem in their own terms, as well.
I think the best thing companies and educators can do is really sit down and go over a number of things in concrete terms. A company has to be clear about what it’s trying to accomplish before it can ever start. Is it a skill it’s trying to build, or is it knowledge that it needs to generally raise?
A company also needs to be clear about what it’s good at and what it’s not, and then get help for that. And companies and educators need to be clear about what’s going to demonstrate mastery of skills or knowledge. Will there be a test, a letter grade, or a certificate?
It’s also critical that the time frame is defined quickly and upfront. Employers might expect something to be turned around in a matter of weeks or maybe a couple of months, while for a lot of educators, it takes two years to get curriculum approved. And what’s the best method for delivery? Will it be at the school, or will the employer need to make space within its facilities for education or training?
And employers need to be clear on what their commitment is to the people who complete a program. Will they be hired, or will the employer just offer to interview everyone that completes the program? Will existing employees who complete a program get a wage gain or a promotion?