PARTNERS IN WORK-BASED LEARNING
The core of the local partnership is employers, secondary and postsecondary representatives, and students. It also may include representatives from community-based organizations, employer organizations, professional associations working at the local level, workforce development boards, parent groups, teacher associations, and vocational student organizations. Students, their families, employers, educators, and community leaders are partners in the North Carolina School-to-Work system.
having a local partnership allows different stakeholders to participate in the preparation and success of world-class workers for their local communities and for the state.
Partnerships should be lasting relationships of mutual obligation and accountability. Such relationships begin with the recruitment efforts. Successful recruitment strategies include the following:
- involving partners early in the efforts,
- preparing partners early in the efforts,
- giving partners significant responsibility,
- anticipating and addressing partners' concerns,
- using leaders in their fields to recruit their peers, and
- using the networks and credibility of intermediary organizations to assist in recruitment.
Clear expectations, high standards, and early involvement will recruit committed, effective partners.
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARTNERS
Partners work together to provide a variety of workplace experiences that give students firsthand knowledge of the world of work. They identify and implement local goals. Program goals, program size, and the partners' priorities will determine the specific roles and responsibilities of partners. In general, partners assume the responsibility of ensuring North Carolina's successful competition in the 21st century economy.
Families are vital partners as they provide the first teaching about possible careers. They expose children to career options, influence their aspirations, promote workplace readiness, and instill work ethics. They also serve as role models for securing employment, holding a job, and advancing within a career. Once students select possible career majors, families continue their role of guidance in selecting courses, work-based learning experiences, and postsecondary opportunities.
Employers are key partners because they provide the workplace experiences for students, illuminate the need for a trained workforce, and facilitate constant updating of the workforce training system. They help students develop the skills needed for success in their chosen careers in the following ways:
- initiating/sponsoring a school-to-work activities,
- mentoring youth,
- providing teacher internships,
- providing a laboratory for student learning,
- evaluating student work, and
- recruiting students.
Educators provide the school-based experiences for students. They offer the background knowledge and skills for success on the job. They serve as liaisons between the school system and the workplace. They work as interns to learn more about available careers. In turn, they revise curriculum to more adequately prepare students. They also provide guidance as students plan secondary and postsecondary opportunities.
BUILDING A PARTNERSHIP
The keys to successful partnerships are time, effort, and commitment. The following are suggestions for building partnerships:
- Partners should develop a clear, shared vision of intended outcomes and should be particularly sensitive to one another's individual objectives.
- Educators should adopt a private sector industry perspective.
- Partners must allow for the fact that much time is required for the formulation of stable, lasting partnerships.
- Partnerships must foster climates of negotiation and cooperation.
- Developing the partnership around a single school or school system eases the burden of administration.
- Employers of all sizes and types should be included in partnerships.
- Partnerships must foster open, honest, and frequent communication.
- Commitment must come from all levels of participating organizations.
All partners must be actively engaged in the local efforts to ensure the success and the longevity of the partnership. All can be involved in the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of the group's work.