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Centering Students in Employer Engagement

An Equity-Focused Field Guide for Community Colleges and Intermediaries

January 9, 2024

At a Glance

This step-by-step guide serves as a resource for colleges and intermediaries looking to adopt an equity lens for employer engagement efforts. We propose a new approach for industry partnerships that centers student needs and outcomes, emphasizing job quality and equitable economic advancement above all else. Additionally, we provide reflection questions and a fillable action plan as supports for institutions implementing an equity-focused employer engagement strategy.

Lisa Durkin Director, JFF
Melissa MacGregor Director, JFF
Kassandra McGhee Director, JFF
Ben Williams Director, JFF
Practices & Centers

Traditionally, community colleges seeking partnerships have placed the employer and its needs first. The field guide adopts an equity lens that centers the needs and outcomes of learners. For industry partnerships to facilitate student success, they must always be in service of equitable economic mobility for learners. The purpose of this resource is to support colleges in creating and implementing an equity-centered employer engagement strategy through the following step-by-step actions:

[Gear icon] Build an Equitable Employer Engagement Infrastructure through evaluating existing data, create equity-focused employer engagement goals, allocate resources to support equitable employer engagement, facilitate internal collaboration for identifying and cultivating impact employers. [Hands shaking icon] Develop partnerships with impact employers: identify a bilateral value proposition, connect with DEI-focused employer leads, schedule a discovery meeting, present targeted equity-center solutions, and formalize a mutually beneficial partnership. [Paper and pencil icon] Drive impact through sustained engagement: invest in ongoing partnership management, track progress on equity outcomes transparently, and promote equity through policy and systems change.

As they use the guide, colleges can turn learning into action with the help of the supplied Equity-Centered Employer Engagement Action Plan. This fillable template assists college representatives in reflecting on their current employer engagement efforts and outlines actions they might take to proactively center student outcomes in their approach to industry partnerships. With the help of these resources, colleges can update their practices to better align with their mission and support learners in obtaining quality jobs that facilitate equitable economic advancement.