In our continued quest to provide business-facing workforce and education practitioners with the necessary information to make informed decisions when choosing high-quality professional development options to maximize their engagement efforts, we must first lay the foundation with an understanding that business services is not business engagement; and as importantly, any culminating “certifications” pertaining to these topics are just as different. It is this confusion in the market that has prompted Business U to explore the pivotal differences in a two-part series of articles that will help you choose a training provider that prepares you with the knowledge and skills you need to expand opportunities for job seekers and students.
Delivering business services to industry is critical to expand job-placement and work-based learning opportunities, which are driven by supply-side measures that funders require—how many participants are in unsubsidized employment, their median earnings, how many obtained a postsecondary credential or secondary school diploma and/or achieved measurable skill gains toward credential or employment. While this demonstrates how well your organization is meeting funding requirements, these measures do not matter to business and your effectiveness in “serving” them. This further reveals that business services is not business engagement.
Businesses absolutely need a pipeline of talented and skilled workers to maximize productivity, efficiencies and profits; however, they don’t go about it by being a champion of your organization’s mission. So how do you engage industry in a meaningful way that if your funding went away your employer community would notice or care? Your building blocks to cultivate employer champions is dependent on putting into action fundamental engagement principles such as leveraging your business services in coordination with your network of partner relationships and combining these joint resources to provide businesses with a competitive advantage.
Many organizations nationwide have experienced success at cultivating business relationships that have resulted in long-term employer champions, however it’s no secret that businesses are not clamoring to connect with their local workforce and education organizations. When Business U conducts baseline assessments of employer market penetration rates across the country, these organizations reach between 1% and 5% of businesses within their respective markets. When you have about 95% to 99% of businesses not engaged with your mission, it translates as missed opportunities for your job seekers and students. Though there are a variety of reasons for low penetration rates, it’s becoming increasingly evident through Business U’s national research projects and field work that public-sector organizations tasked with engaging industry are not differentiating between delivering business services and strategically implementing business engagement activities that have measurable outcomes.
As a brief recap, business services are what you deliver such as programs, funding opportunities, and other business solutions. Practicing business engagement does not focus on your mission and agenda, but instead, provides you with the opportunity to innovate how you provide those services and the flexibility to partner with other business-facing organizations through coordinated efforts to expand your reach. Equally important, transactional interactions with employers should not be taken out of the engagement discussion, they too require a strategic service delivery approach to protect your limited time and resources.
Workforce and education organizations who are business-facing work really hard to expand employer reach within their unique markets to increase opportunities for job seekers and students. These efforts can be maximized with a deeper understanding of business engagement strategies and implementation tactics. This now brings us back to where we started at the beginning of this article, to ensure that you have the information and resources you need to help make an informed decision when selecting a professional development vendor, specifically when they are marketing business services and business engagement “certifications.” Make sure to read our next article, where we explore what Harvard Business Review says about those claiming to be “experts.” Business U will also provide you with strategies for you to assess whether or not the vendor you are considering is an expert in business engagement. In the meantime, here are a few questions to consider:
- Does the training vendor provide a broader lens of what strategic business engagement means and how it is practiced?
- Will the training vendor help you understand the psyche of business and that it goes far beyond the “language of business,” by articulating what is of value to business?
- Does the training vendor have demonstrated learning outcomes that have been third-party validated by a recognized accrediting agency?
Next week, we tackle the question, What Does It Mean to Be an Expert in Business Engagement?
If you would like to learn more about Business U’s accredited business engagement programs and certifications, please contact: email@example.com.
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