1.2.2 Working with the Private Sector

Broad consensus emerged among participants that working with the private sector is of critical importance in ensuring quality, relevance, and employment outcomes in WfD programs; yet improvements in three areas of practice were identified as critical to improving success. 

  • Formulating the approach: In formulating an approach to private sector collaborations, questions remain regarding who to bring to the table and at what point in the process to do so, as well as how to make the business case for employer participation, particularly before programs have generated results that lead to the name recognition and trust that is required. 
  • Negotiating roles and responsibilities: Once all relevant parties are at the table, communication remains an issue, especially since implementers and businesses tend to speak different “languages,” and adjusting to working on employers’ timelines.  In many situations, practitioners must also educate employers about effective roles and responsibilities within the WfD system and help them assume these roles effectively.  With respect to the sustainability of these collaborations, one of the major questions in this respect is, “who pays?”  Understanding whether employers have a short- or long-term outlook, and basing partner selection on whether employers are willing to contribute to training costs once success has been established are critical to establishing sustainable programs.
  • Program design and implementation: In the program design arena, participants agreed that employers will frequently provide technical training to students with solid soft skills, but find it challenging to strike the right balance between soft skills and vocational training that satisfies employers. They agreed on the need for broader quality standards for life skills curricula, in line with IYF’s Passport to Success model, and greater understanding of what constitutes effective soft skills training.