Why would a business and education system work together? What are some ideas on how they would have a productive dialogue? How can they focus on commonalities?
Fourteen pairs of business and educational leaders from fourteen of the twenty-one New Jersey counties participated in a research study to acquire commonalities and differences between what competencies businesses require and what competencies the educational systems actually produce. The study also explored ways that each institution could collaborate or partner with the other in dimensions other than strategic competency management.
About eighty percent of the twenty-eight participants commented that the conversations between the business and educational leaders were productive and would result in future collaborations and personal and organizational changes.
Three examples of what the conversations produced were: one educational participant began thinking of teachers as leaders; a business leader completed competency models for each function in his business and; another business leader supplied scientific equipment to a school district and initiated interactions between scientists and teachers and students.
The survey of the business participants shows that the top five competencies that the business participants said they expect all employees to have are: Teamwork, Communications, Problem-Solving, Customer-Client Focus, and Interpersonal Skills.
The top five competencies that the business participants said are currently missing in employees and recruits are: Communications, Leadership, Problem-Solving, Decision-Making, and Teamwork.
Both groups of leaders said the hurdles for a productive conversation were ‘Time’ as the number one hurdle, followed by ‘Consistency of Participants’, ‘Establishing Agendas’, ‘Top Leadership Support’ for the discussion, and ‘Ongoing Involvement’ of both leaders.
Business and education confluences can be a strategic dialogue about competencies that can lead to developing integrated strategic processes in selection, career management, development, performance management, and reward and recognition in each institution. A conversation can lead to collaborations in mentoring, teaching, sharing real world examples of competency use, and even the sharing of human resources. It can also lead to developing community, parent, teacher, and student empowering policies. Finally, the participants said that the conversations create time to think about the connection to one’s organization, community, and self.
But who initiates that first call? One business said, “They have to call me,” while another business leader who works with the educational system said, “This was the first time [someone from education] came to my office.” One HR leader said, “This conversation went to a deeper level. [The educator] shared more barriers.” One educational leader said, “This type of research is new because it addresses communication. The outcome is communication. [Most] other outcomes are usually beneficial to one or the other party but not to both. You are establishing reasons and a process of communication without an external motivator.”