How education institutions create alliances with small and medium sized businesses

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form 98% of the UK businesses yet there exists little literature relating to the implementation of alliances between education providers and SMEs.

About the project

What is the project about?

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form 98% of the UK businesses yet there exists little literature relating to the implementation of alliances between education providers and SMEs. FE colleges wishing to support progression, employability opportunities, entrepreneurship and their local economy recovery must forge links with SMEs. The current practices being introduced by individual providers to survive and develop in this post-covid market whilst meeting state- and local-initiated requirements, are still being developed, leaving many grappling with how to enact this expectation. This highlights the need for a framework that encompasses the governance and structural features of the alliances in order to implement a sustainable strategy and infrastructure.

FE providers must be allowed to understand the stages the alliance may experience to consider the governance and structural features of the alliances. This will enable them to implement a sustainable strategy and infrastructure that not only supports the alliance but meets the delivery demands of the personal development agenda, Ofsted framework and Gatsby benchmarks. This project will explore the influences upon the alliance and will include the different considerations that weigh upon the development of the education provider-SME alliance. The project will provide a framework that moves beyond the current models to provide a more secure base for providers/specific faculties with little or no prior experience in SME alliance building to move forward from.

What is the benefit to students?

The benefits will support the personal development agenda, Ofsted framework and Gatsby benchmarks by increasing

  • Confidence in strategies for SME alliances
  • Number of alliances with SMEs
  • Growth in guest speakers, mentors, industry placements, work experience, industry visits
  • Collaborative SME development of the curriculum

In addition, it will stream line our process to improve efficiencies and effectiveness for those working within the employer-engagement sector.

How will the impact of the project be measured?

The framework will include the manner by which different considerations weigh upon and dominate the development of the education provider-SME alliance, from the provider view point.   This will incorporate considerations at concept, strategic and operational level whilst traversing several lines of enquiry such as networking, knowledge exchange and transfer, research and development or co-production, and student-based project work.   

To explore the real-life context from multiple perspectives, up to 3 FE colleges & 3 SMEs will be contacted to examine the similarities and differences regarding how they create alliances with SMEs.  

Impact: Knowledge collected regarding how to develop relationships with SMEs will be used to create a framework that can then be applied to policies and practices.  

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