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Why You Should Start a School Industry Partnership Initiative

Businessman and students join in a school industry partnership

A school industry partnership is an opportunity to access untold resources which stand to benefit your students tremendously. When a school partners with a local company, everybody wins. The company has a chance to give back to the community, and the students get to experience a whole new type of education. Building a school industry partnership might seem complicated and daunting, but once you take the initiative and lay the framework, there is no telling what kind of impact your efforts with have.

What is a school industry partnership?

A school industry partnership is when a school and a local business join together to share resources. This can take the form of monetary donations, contributing time from local professionals, donating equipment, offering internships, and really anything the company wants. There are so many different ways to make this relationship work, it just depends what the school needs, and what the local business has to offer.

What can a company contribute in a school industry partnership?

It all depends on what the company has the resources to offer. For example, if a school is teaming up with a local lab or workshop, the company might think about giving the school some of the tools and equipment they don’t need anymore. Equipment which has just become obsolete or slightly less efficient than ideal could be just the thing a school needs for hands on science experiments, or even outfitting a makerspace. Some companies also like to offer some kind of mentorship program, where they send employees into the schools to work with students individually, or in small groups. Schools are always happy to have some additional help, and many professionals are thrilled to have the chance to make connections with the local youth.

What does a successful partnership look like?

One of the most important things about building a successful relationship between a school and a company, is making sure that everyone is clear about expectations. Because the local business is the one offering the goods or services, the school should be respectful of what they are willing (and not willing) to contribute. It should be very clear to both parties what the school is getting, how they are getting it, and what the timeframe is. Scheduling and transparency are extremely important to make sure that the experience is a positive one for everyone involved. The principal should ask the company what they are in a position to offer, and then decide what will be most beneficial to them from whatever has been suggested.

What can a business gain from a school industry partnership?

At first glance, a teacher or administrator would probably wonder why in the world a company would agree to donate resources to a local school. But the arrangement can actually be quite beneficial to the company as well. First of all, in any niche market, it can be difficult to find employees with a certain skill set. If a company deliberately sets up a program in the local high school which helps students develop these particular skills, and then helps them transition into the workforce, they can create exactly the kinds of employees they need. Additionally, it always looks good for a local business to give back to the community. When people hear that a certain business is donating time or other resources to the local school, they will feel more positively about that company, and maybe even patronize them more (if relevant).

How can I start a school industry partnership?

Even if a company wants to be part of a partnership, there are probably many local schools competing for the spot. The best way to approach a company is by seeing where the school has connections, possibly through parents or faculty. It is also important to approach a company with some sort of vision for how their help could make a real impact on your school. Another thing to keep in mind is to look for businesses which are specifically equipped to help in a way that your school needs. Additional resources are always good, but even moreso when they fill a specific need.

School industry partnership initiatives can be truly transformative, when managed correctly. There needs to be a point person in both the school and the company who ensures that things are running smoothly, and that both sides are honoring their commitments. While it may take a significant effort to get a partnership started, a successful relationship has the potential to transform a school and its students for many years to come.

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