This Insghts article was contributed by Katie Farrell, Associate Dean of Adult & Professional Studies at NC Wesleyan College.
It is becoming increasingly common for companies to partner with colleges to create opportunities for employees to advance their education. Examples include the Apple-Ohio State, Starbucks-Arizona State, AT&T-Georgia Tech, and Glaxo Smith Kline-University of North Carolina partnerships.
Although the focus of these relationships differs, many of the core reasons for these partnerships prove to be mutually beneficial.
Typically, colleges willingly participate in opportunities that provide students a valuable learning experience. College environments provide an intelligent, talented and energetic pool of faculty and staff with an interest in devoting time and resources to business related projects. Businesses are likely to find a viable partner in local or regional colleges.
Benefits for businesses range from simple internships to issues with global implications. Internships and mentorships can provide students real-world experiences while offering businesses new perspectives on how to view problems. Internships may also open an avenue for businesses to recruit and train potential employees while providing exposure to the business environment.
Colleges are rich sources of talent that may lie outside company expertise. Most colleges are amenable to allowing individuals or groups of students to work on projects that can be tied directly to an academic endeavor. Degree options, such as business, leadership, computer information systems, marketing and logistics, offer a content-specific resource that can enhance business operations.
Often, company employees have not taken advantage of higher education. A college partnership can provide an opportunity for these employees to pursue the completion of a degree. Many colleges offer alternative scheduling for the working adult student. Degrees and scheduling options are available on a non-traditional college schedule and are increasingly offered online.
Many colleges offer a corporate plan, allowing employees to defer the cost of tuition through an employee reimbursement plan. Today more than 50 percent of companies help fund undergraduate coursework (Carlson).
College talent is a commodity sought by many businesses. Some experts predict that by 2020, 65% of jobs will require education or training beyond a high school diploma (Carlson).
In order for businesses to remain competitive, recruiting and hiring the most capable candidate is an advantage. This benefit is not limited to filling vacant positions but is also important in order for businesses to retain existing employees. A study by the Lumina Foundation found that companies who offer educational assistance found a positive return on investment of 129-144% due in part to increased retention (Carlson).
Businesses benefit in additional ways from an educated workforce. Employees offered educational benefits are more loyal as they feel valued by the business. Companies offering educational benefits experience a decrease in turnover, which leads to longer tenured employees. Flexibility in the market is yet another advantage as employees more easily adapt to and respond to change.
The benefits of businesses creating relationships with colleges can be small-scale or wide-ranging. The research is clear however – a partnership with a college offers distinct benefits to companies, employees and colleges. These benefits should be attractive to any company that wishes to remain competitive in a challenging economy.
Katie Farrell is the Associate Dean of Adult & Professional Studies at NC Wesleyan College. She holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Mercy College, a Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Kaplan University and is a Doctoral student at Northeastern University. Katie joined NC Wesleyan in 2011 to manage the start-up of the partnership with Cape Fear Community College and the opening of the Wilmington location. NC Wesleyan College provides students the opportunity to earn their degree in a format designed specifically for the adult learners to meet personal, career and life goals. For more information, visit https://ncwc.edu/adult/ or email [email protected]
Dani is the Assistant Director of Admissions for North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Adult & Professional Studies. She started her career with NC Wesleyan College in 2016. NCWC offers students the ability to obtain their degree in an affordable and conveniently formatted program. Please visit www.ncwc.edu/BelieveNow or email [email protected] for more information.
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