Last fall, the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) attended the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) conference in Atlanta and delivered a presentation entitled “Employer Strategies for Managing Successful Employer Councils.” This session introduced attendees to the concept the Business and Industry Leadership Team – “BILT” for short. As you know, recommendations and insights provided by our national BILT drives all of the CTC grant’s work.
The NCPN invited conference attendees to convert their session presentations into articles. The CTC’s article was accepted and published in the December 2022 edition of the NCPN newsletter. You can read it here. It’s a great overview introduction to the BILT model.
Among the highlights of that article are the seven essential elements of implementing a successful BILT.
1. Convene regularly. BILTs should meet at least three times a year (spring, summer, fall), preferably quarterly. Frequent engagement promotes deeper relationships. Meetings can be in person or via Zoom or a hybrid.
2. Discuss trends. Employers share their perspectives on industry trends three or more years into the future. Too often business advisory councils are powered by faculty agendas. Let the businesses speak so they can better inform educators on what’s coming in the workforce.
3. Invite faculty. Faculty must be present at the BILT meetings so they can hear directly from employers.
4. Conduct an annual vote. The cornerstone of the BILT model is an annual, line-by-line prioritization of granular entry-level job skills (specifically, knowledge, skills, and abilities, or KSAs). Voting is done online and automatically tallied on a spreadsheet, which then fuels industry discussion. This KSA vote is always “future-facing.” That is, employers consider the entry-level skill they will need 12–36 months into the future to allow time for curriculum changes. Free Google tools are used to facilitate this vote. Learn more about the voting process by watching this 10-minute video.
5. Map the KSA results. After the BILT prioritizes the entry-level skills, the faculty use that spreadsheet to make sure that needs identified by the BILT are indeed being covered in the classroom. They determine which KSAs are covered by existing courses and at what level, and which ones are not covered. Where there are gaps, the faculty can create new courses or update existing courses.
6. Provide feedback to close the loop. Part of building a relationship with employers is making sure the BILT feels heard and valued. Be sure to update the BILT on what you’ve done with their recommendations and how you’ve made changes. And if you can’t do what they asked, explain why. Sometimes BILT members can help find solutions.
7. Group employers by subject matter expertise. Leverage the know-how of your employers in their specific disciplines. It’s fine to convene your entire program BILT for broader program discussions and trends talks. But when it’s time to drill down and prioritize entry-level KSAs, you should consider convening just the BILT members who are subject matter experts in that specific area. You can’t expect, for example, networking experts to be able to prioritize job skills in programming.