GETTING TO THE GOAL: COLLABORATE
For postsecondary education to grow as this Master Plan envisions – and as the state urgently needs – stakeholders across all sectors must embrace the vision for the future and pull together strategically to move it forward. We must be inclusive and intentional in building partnerships, but also clear that everyone is actively engaged in the work. Collaboration based in mutual commitments shared by a broad spectrum of stakeholders will be essential for tapping the state’s unmet potential. This approach requires that we expand our efforts to deepen productive partnerships with state and federal agencies and non-profit groups, as well as across the private sector both regionally and statewide. These partnerships cannot run on parallels or come together on an occasional or ad hoc basis, but will be deliberate, formal, and fully unified. We must pull as a single team to produce generational change for Louisiana.
In the highly integrated culture of the 21st century, relationships across all sectors involved in postsecondary education and workforce development will be the critical driver of opportunity. The role of the Board of Regents in establishing, maintaining, and growing these partnerships is clear: we must serve as conveners and liaisons, facilitate, advocate, track prospects for collaborative efforts, and act as the statewide voice for work that must be done together.
In 2018, the Governor created the Workforce and Education Subcabinet as a formal collaborative effort to bring together a cross-section of agencies committed to talent development – economic development, workforce, child and family services, health, corrections, juvenile justice, and housing joined PK-12 and higher education. The focus is on cross-agency policy work specifically designed to improve Louisiana’s progressively skilled workforce through alignment with education and credential accumulation. The subcabinet represents a promising opportunity to leverage resources and develop policy and practice to improve educational attainment and workforce readiness. Maintaining and growing these partnerships on behalf of higher education on a state level will be essential to improve our success in reaching the shared populations we serve and in aligning campus and program priorities with Louisiana’s economic and community needs, present and future.
The Louisiana Talent Imperative builds on an already-extensive PK-12 partnership. To develop our talent from within the state and provide more opportunities for Louisiana’s residents, we must maintain strong links at all points of the education pipeline and work to expand college into high school. The likelihood of success for students in higher education is clearly rooted in the preparation they receive in PK-12 and aided by early exposure to college. This partnership has already yielded results in the alignment of academic expectations and preparation, a mutual focus on dual enrollment, teacher preparation and more. We must continue to advance a shared vision for equity in opportunity and academic success
Higher education across the country has recognized the need to act as a liaison between the student population – people in search of personal and professional growth and new opportunities – and business and industry – the source of high-skill, high-wage jobs in Louisiana. Aligning program offerings and curricula with market needs is critical to building the classroom-to-work pipeline and positioning today’s students for tomorrow’s job opportunities. While postsecondary education has increasingly pursued deep partnerships with business and industry, they have grown up largely in response to – rather than ahead of – demand. Relationships must be developed more proactively and deliberately, to ensure the depth and nimbleness necessary to adjust to new needs and possibilities for Louisiana’s workforce. Maintaining and building these networks of innovation will increase Louisiana’s capacity for research and development at the highest level, helping position the state as a hub for industry-based innovation, in turn bringing more and better opportunities to our state.
Through such intentional, long-term collaborations, employers can advocate for the importance of higher education, provide student internships and projects, and inform and support academic programs designed to accelerate the development of needed skills. Institutions can partner with employers to develop work-based learning opportunities that may be credentialed, develop competency-based learning models that allow students to receive credit for and build on what they already know, and integrate internships, project-based learning, and other experiential learning into curriculum and program design. When done correctly, these partnerships form the basis for long-term investment and mutual support between public and private sector stakeholders.