As an employer, there is much to be gained from offering industry engagement opportunities to tertiary students, however there is little in the way of guidance on how to cultivate these relationships, and ensure they are mutually beneficial.
Unfortunately, the value proposition for employers is seldom communicated by the institutions who rely on them, which can result in a disconnect between these two parties when it comes to the objectives and potential benefits of industry engagement programs.
In light of this disconnect, a key question for both universities and employers is how to begin a meaningful dialogue about the process of shaping career ready graduates, and creating the opportunities that will assist in this.
The most common form of industry engagement is offering placements to students, however it can often be difficult to source quality placements for students in working environments relevant to both their areas of study and career aspirations.
There is a huge opportunity to build proper partnerships between universities and the industries in which they hope to place students, however universities need to start asking employers what they want from these relationships.
For some employers, having students on placement may help them to diversify their resources with regard to particular projects or research, while others are really looking to provide on-the-job training with the view to recruit these students once they have graduated.
Other employers may view their relationship with the institution itself as the real value, allowing them access to new talent, and facilitating meaningful interactions with students which may influence the career paths they choose, and the employers to whom they will show loyalty.
For employers, access to university students offers enormous value, and for institutions who are committed to creating well-coordinated, grounded, and meaningful industry engagement experiences, it is imperative that they focus on aligning their own objectives with those of their industry partners.
While most education providers recognise the importance of creating positive industry engagement partnerships, the future of these partnerships will be determined by the approach they take to shaping a relationship that delivers value to all parties.