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Creating purposeful partnerships: Business and higher education working together to build regional talent ecosystems for the digital economy

[This report offers insights into business-led regional talent ecosystems that facilitate access, alignment, and development of a prepared workforce with the skills necessary for companies’ long-term success. The findings of this report serve as a playbook for [chief executive officers CEOs and their executive teams for establishing purposeful and strategic partnerships with higher education leaders to meet the need for diverse digital-skills talent. This report builds upon the Business-Higher Education Forum’s (BHEF) work, supported by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation [NSF, to develop, replicate, and evaluate a successful model for such partnerships between businesses and higher education institutions. These partnerships begin with industry and higher education working together to deeply understand, articulate, and translate the workforce needs of a particular region. This level-setting activity, aided by a third-party facilitator (in this case, BHEF), creates the necessary foundation for developing partnerships that lead to new educational pathways, job credentials, and talent-acquisition strategies – and, ultimately, employees with the skills that companies need., This report shares BHEF’s Partnership Implementation Process, which guides business and higher education partners on how to align their efforts to meet the workforce needs in greatest demand. Through this process, BHEF helps develop and replicate the most effective business-higher education partnerships, those that offer innovative programs to build digital skills and improve student outcomes, including community college transfer, across multiple regions. The partnerships highlighted in this report demonstrate best practices and suggest ways that all types of businesses can deeply engage with universities to establish diverse talent ecosystems in their region.