The “BILT model” (regular blog readers know that BILT stands for Business and Industry Leadership Team) championed by the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) puts employers in a co-leadership role at a technical program. One of the cornerstones of that “BILT model” is an annual job skills validation vote in which employers prioritize and rank the job skills (more specifically, the KSAs – knowledge, skills, and abilities) an entry-level worker will need to know in 12-36 months. Taking these votes and using them to align curriculum ensures that programs are teaching the skills the industry needs and that graduates are “workforce ready.”
The National CTC recently created a 10-minute video explaining the job skills voting process in more detail. You can watch the video here.
Here are ten important things to remember when preparing for a job skills vote with your BILT.
- Conduct your meeting in real-time. There is real value to you and your faculty colleagues hearing the discussions and the debates in the room. Resist the temptation to validate job skills via email or online surveys.
- Always start with a pro forma list of estimated job skills to serve as a starting point.Asking your BILT to come up with a job skills list from scratch is not an efficient use of their time. You can develop your pro forma list by looking at other educational programs or national workforce standards.
- The rule of thumb for RSVPs is that only half of those who say they are coming will actually show up/If you want 10 employers in the room, work hard to get 20 confirmations. The National CTC has learned this lesson the hard way many times.
- End your meeting promptly on time, whether your finished or not. Respect your BILT members’ time.
- Faculty may ask questions, but they should take care not to unintentionally influence the vote.The job skills validation meeting should not get sidetracked in discussions on curriculum and course content.Let the BILT members focus on the skills they want; the faculty will work out later how to best teach those skills.
- The meeting facilitator not only keeps the discussion on track and out of dead-end digressions, he or she also must manage the more dominant BILT member personalities and make sure every voice is heard. While the facilitator doesn’t have to be an expert on the topic at hand, it can help.
- Consensus is not the goal of the job skills vote. That’s why the employers vote – to record the differences of opinion.
- The pro forma job skills spreadsheet is the BILT’s to adjust and edit as they see fit. They can add job skills that are missing, remove skills that are irrelevant, or revise descriptions and definitions.
- Beware of sharing the job skills spreadsheet prior to the meeting. Some BILT members may fill out their votes, send back the sheet, and then not attend your meeting because they think they’ve done their job. Remember that it’s important to have the employers all together in the room when you discuss and vote on the job skills. A lot of valuable information comes out of their talk.
- The job skills vote means nothing until the faculty uses the final tally to map skills to courses.If there are any gaps between what the BILT wants and what the program teaches, adjustments will need to be made to create an alignment.