Engaging with businesses

Strong relationships with business communities, the tertiary education sector and other community organisations can help schools provide great careers education for students. Find out how to build these relationships.

How do schools benefit from working with businesses?

Schools engage with the business community to:

  • provide future employment opportunities for students, and help businesses meet their current and future skill needs
  • work together to find solutions to community issues
  • raise the school’s profile in the business community and increase awareness and appreciation of school achievements
  • find funding (sponsorship) for new school resources and projects
  • provide students with alternative pathways, which can motivate students to stay in school
  • provide a wider range of contexts to develop knowledge and practical work-related skills
  • access technology and expertise that the school is unable to provide
  • provide teachers with opportunities to work alongside industry experts and be involved in industry-directed training
  • create work experience opportunities that will increase students' awareness of career options, the world of work, and the skills and attitudes required by employers
  • provide students with mentors and role models in a wide range of occupations
  • increase teachers’ knowledge of the range of jobs available locally and what training is needed to enter them.

How do businesses benefit from working with schools?

Businesses partner with schools and form informal links because they can:

  • influence the future workforce by promoting skills, training opportunities and industries, recruit talent, and educate schools on preparing students for the world of work
  • stay informed of developments in education and gain an understanding of current teaching practices, assessment methods and accreditation
  • raise their profile with young people by providing student-tailored packages (for example, tertiary banking packages) or sponsoring curriculum material
  • get ideas from students for developing and marketing products and services aimed at a younger generation
  • tap into schools' facilities, educational expertise and resources to help meet their businesses' training and development needs (for example, helping staff with literacy, numeracy and computer training needs)
  • connect better with the community, enhance their corporate image and gain an understanding of school problems and opportunities.

How schools and businesses can work together

Schools and businesses can collaborate on a number of levels:

  • to plan curriculum programmes combining school and work-based learning
  • to integrate practical vocational material into a subject area
  • to set up mentoring programmes for students and teachers
  • to establish work exploration and experience schemes
  • to create opportunities for students to carry out work observations, site visits, work experience, “employee for a day”, job-shadowing or part-time paid work.

Businesses can also support schools by providing:

  • learning opportunities for students, and sharing recent industry knowledge with teachers
  • access to industry-relevant technology
  • management expertise as members of boards of trustees, providing scholarships, sponsorship or project funding for students who display the aptitude and motivation to pursue careers related to that business.

How to create successful partnerships with businesses

Setting up a partnership

  • When approaching a business, consider the size and economic health of that business. This may affect its ability to contribute to the partnership.
  • Your school is more likely to be able to set up a partnership with businesses when the economy is doing well.
  • Third parties such as employers' and manufacturers' associations, Chambers of Commerce, economic development agencies, industry associations and industry training organisations can sometimes help broker partnerships and/or help schools to set up relationships with businesses.
  • Have a clear sense of what your school wants to achieve from a partnership, particularly in terms of learning and life benefits for students. Mutual measurable objectives should be made clear.
  • A business may not always be aware of the potential benefits of partnering with a school. Have information about these benefits ready for businesses. 

Maintaining the partnership

  • Both parties should gain something from the partnership. Consider setting up communication and recognition policies (for example, certificates, public appreciation ceremonies) and testimonials about successful partnerships to encourage ongoing or wider participation from businesses.
  • Have a clear commitment from the school leadership team to support the partnership with businesses, and internal systems that support these partnerships (ie clear lines of responsibility for managing this partnership).
  • Keep in regular contact with each of the businesses your school works with.

Updated 10 Nov 2014