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Building your school’s industry network is a valuable way to engage your students with the local community, and provide opportunities for them to connect with professionals who can help bridge the gap between the classroom and the world of work. There are a number of ways schools and industries can work together to support students – these include work and vocation experience opportunities, mentorship and traineeships, supporting professional and learner development, and collaborating on community projects.
Building these connections can often take time and effort, so here are our top tips on how you can reach out to industries efficiently and purposefully so you can start creating lasting partnerships, now!
The easiest place to start is in your own backyard. Local businesses are always looking for ways to engage with the community and what better way than getting involved with the students in the area? It is also a lot easier and quicker to get hold of management in local businesses compared to big corporates, who usually have their own work experience programs in place already.
Most local businesses are happy to engage with their local school, so why not introduce yourself!
This leads us to our second point – if you’re contacting local businesses, why not pop in and have a chat in person? Picking up the phone or sending an email is a lot easier – there’s no argument there – but meeting with businesses in person provides an opportunity for you to build personal connections in a way that can’t be forged digitally. It also gives you the ability to explain in person the value that a school/business partnership will have for everyone, and you can answer any questions management might have without going back and forth through email.
You may not realise it, but your school already has a vast network of industry connections in the form of your P&C committee, parents and staff members.
a. Your P&C committee
Your P&C committee is the perfect place to start as you begin to expand your industry network. Put a call out at the next meeting to see if any members’ workplaces would be interested in taking students on for work experience, or if any members have connections they could reach out to.
Parents may also be able to help create industry connections through their own workplace connections. Sending an email or placing a notice in the school newsletter or on social media can help spread the word that you are looking for industry and business connections, and parents are usually more than happy to help if it means adding value to their child’s education.
c. Staff Members
Finally, enlist the help of your staff members whose partners and family members may work in a business that would be willing to build a partnership with your school.
Your local Chamber of Commerce and local Council are always looking for ways to get involved in the community. It may take a few tries to get ahold of the right person, but it is definitely worth the effort!
Chambers of Commerce can be partnered with hundreds of local industries, so it is a great resource to tap into, and your local Council may be able to offer their own opportunities or use their expansive network to connect your students with fantastic experiences.
One final thing…
When you’re talking with potential partners, they will likely want to know
Emphasise that not only are they supporting students in their journey through school and into the workforce, it also gives businesses the chance to build their own talent pool and prepare their future workforce in their industry. Students who are mentored or do work experience with these industries are likely interested in that industry and would be looking to pursue a career in that field of work, so this provides businesses with the perfect opportunity to build the skills students will need to be successful and ready for when they enter the workforce.
Now It’s Time to Connect!
You now have a few ways to begin building your industry connections. Remember – like all good things, this will take a bit of time – but in the end, your school will have built a network of valuable and supportive industry partners who are able to help prepare your students for the world of work.
Let’s look at the top soft skills employers of the future of work are looking for, no matter your career path or job.