The study found that more than 65% of corporate respondents are engaged in various educational partnerships or initiatives. The largest companies are more likely to be involved, with almost 87% of organizations with more than 10,000 employees reporting they partner with education on an ongoing basis.
"Collaboration – among business people, educators, government and community groups – has become a must in shaping school reform," says i4cp research analyst Judy London. "Global competition for skilled talent is fueling greater urgency in getting students both college and workplace ready. The task is huge, and stakeholders realize only a coordinated effort will get the job done."
The K-12 educational issues deemed most important by organizations center on teaching. More than 65% of respondents viewed quality of teaching as the most critical issue for the future workforce, and 60% pointed to the training and development of teachers. Parental influence was seen as a critical component by 54% of respondents, while half of polled companies pointed to academic standards and testing as a key issue.
When business partners with education, the most common association is with colleges and universities, with 59% of respondents citing such partnership initiatives . More than half said they work with individual schools, while 44% work with their local school districts and 43% engage with community groups regarding K-12 education. The overarching goal of these associations is to build the skilled-worker labor pool, according to almost 30% of respondents.
To assist in educational partnerships, 61% of responding organizations use "volunteerism" to impart knowledge to school children. Fifty-seven percent donate professional expertise to the classroom, and 42% offer apprenticeships and "action-study" programs.
However, companies are unsure of how effective their educational partnerships are. Almost half (49%) said they consider that the associations are effective to a moderate extent or less. And, 41% of respondents said they don't even measure the effectiveness of such partnerships.
"In a tightening economy, it's likely that more businesses going forward will have program-accountability measures built into their partnerships with schools," says London. "Business involvement with school-district management and the availability of new generations of software should help make that happen."
The areas of curriculum deemed most critical to the future workforce were topped by the need for interpersonal and teamwork skills, pointed to by 66% of respondents, followed by communication skills (65%) and analytical thinking (63%). More than half are concerned with math and science knowledge as a driver of a successful future workforce.
The Taking the Pulse: K-12 Education survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with HR.com, in July 2008. There were 298 respondents. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.
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