On April 5, High Impact Partners, the America’s Promise Grants Technical Assistance (TA) provider, hosted the Peer-to-Peer session on Sustaining Employer Relationships with a focus on the Information Technology (IT) industry. This was the second of 3 peer-to-peer sessions focused on sustaining employer relationships within the America’s Promise targeted industries: Healthcare, IT, and Advanced Manufacturing.

Mike Laidlaw, TA Lead Coach, led this peer-to-peer conversation on sustaining employer relationships in the IT industry. Following a brief introduction on the current trends in IT, Nakisha Evans, Director of Workforce Partnerships/America’s Promise Grant, Research Foundation, City University of New York (RFCUNY) presented information on IT portfolios. IT portfolios are one method by which RFCUNY is staying abreast of their employer partners’ needs by including them as examples of their skills. Students in the RFCUNY IT program are expected to create a curated portfolio of their completed projects to highlight their demonstrated skills to prospective employers. 

Highlights of RFCUNY IT Portfolio Presentation

  • An IT Portfolio is a curated digital collection of projects hosted through the university or GitHub, an online portal for project sharing.
  • An IT portfolio is not unlike a traditional artist’s portfolio, and allows employers to evaluate an individual’s work and see how students are using technology to solve problems.

Key Takeaways to Sustain Your Employer Relationships

Mike opened the discussion with a series of questions regarding employer engagement and the use of industry trends.

  • When engaging with new employers, RFCUNY shows employers the student IT portfolios as an example of what their students can produce.
  • At CareerSource Brevard, they take multiple paths to connect with and maintain their relationships with IT employers:
    • Consortiums - Conduct ongoing engagement with consortium (employers, schools, local WIBs) designed to hear their workforce challenges; set up committees to address those workforce needs.
    • Chamber of Commerce – meet and network with their IT members
    • Local Advisory Council – invite to meet with community college partners
    • Trade Associations – meet regularly to hear trends, needs, etc.
      • IT industry representatives meet and learn about new certifications on the market, industry trends, etc.
  • Montgomery College uses ESMI, a source of labor market information and trends (an alternative site is Burning Glass) to help them engage with their partners and provide value to them.
  • Focus on small and mid-size IT companies or companies with IT departments to engage/invest in your program, rather than the large IT firms.
  • Offer free training to large companies as a way to get a foot in the door with an industry partner.
  • Sustain the relationship by keeping the employers informed – shape the narrative for them.