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Education-Business Partnerships

The Conference Board of Canada has been working in the area of education-business partnerships for over 20 years. We produce leading-edge research and resources related to education-business partnerships, and support events, awards programs, and other activities for partnership practitioners and other stakeholders.

What Are Education-Business Partnerships?

Education-business partnerships are mutually beneficial, cooperative relationships between one or more educational institutions (K-12 institutions, universities, colleges, polytechnics, CEGEPs, and other institutions) and one or more businesses. They may involve others as partners and participants, including students, employees, parents, community groups, labour, and government organizations. Partners share obligations, objectives, and contributions to achieve a variety of beneficial outcomes, including those related to:

  • Enhanced student learning and employment pathways
  • Post-secondary research support and capacity building
  • Skills and workforce development
  • Employee skills development and job satisfaction
  • Business innovation and R&D
  • Technology transfer
  • Corporate social responsibility and reputational benefits
  • Local and regional economic development

There is a growing recognition that education-business partnerships make important contributions to Canada’s overall competitiveness and prosperity. Maximizing these contributions will become more important in the years to come. For partnerships to succeed, they must be based on strong ethical foundations to safeguard the interests of all participants, as well as sound operating principles to ensure their effectiveness.

A key initiative of the Education and Learning group, in conjunction with the Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education and the International Partnership Network, has been the development of tools that those involved in education-business partnerships can use to help develop and operate ethical and effective partnerships. Separate tools have been developed for partnerships involving post-secondary education (PSE) institutions and those involving K-12 institutions.

Ethical Guidelines

Those involved in the development and operation of education-business partnerships may encounter a variety of ethical challenges and issues that jeopardize partnership success, such as a failure to address potential conflicts of interest, ensure fairness and equitability for partnership participants, or manage unintended negative effects and outcomes. Ethical guidelines can be used by partnership practitioners to help successfully navigate and address these and other ethical issues.

Operating Principles

For education-business partnerships to succeed, they must be based on sound operating principles to reduce conflicts and misunderstandings, and assist partners in collaborating effectively. As the scale and complexity of partnerships increases, so too does the need for operating principles to guide effective decision-making. The Conference Board has developed operating principles that can be used by partnership practitioners to help them make decisions that support partnership effectiveness and success.

Evaluating Education-Business Partnerships

Understanding the value of a partnership can help make partnerships sustainable, motivate the development of new partnership opportunities, and support continuous improvement.

The Conference Board has developed a tool for education-business partnership practitioners of all types to use to set partnership objectives and assess partnership value.

Evaluating Education-Business Partnerships: Value Assessment Process (PDF)

Partnering for Performance

Partnerships between post-secondary education and business are crucial to Canada's competitiveness and prosperity. They enhance student learning, facilitate research and commercialization, and increase local and regional economic development.

This report is designed to help Canada's education, business, government, and community stakeholders understand the value of PSE-business partnerships, and develop and operate ethical, effective, and mutually beneficial collaborations.

Image of report cover Partnering for Performance: Enhancing Partnerships between Post-Secondary Education and Business
(available from e-Library)

Partnership Video

Photo of Dawn Farrell speaking
Dr. Norah McRae and Karima Ramji discuss the CANEU COOP Program (the Canadian–European Union Consortium for Strengthening Transatlantic Student Mobility in Co-operative Education).

Partnership Report

Image of report cover Partnering for Performance: Enhancing Partnerships between Post-Secondary Education and Business