How to Leverage Partnerships to Build Success in Education

Dr. Jim Sawyer, President of Macomb Community College

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Partnerships are critical to the success of any technical or community college. Their very purpose is to build a pipeline of talent with the skills most in-demand in their regional businesses and to help employers fill their workforce needs.

Macomb Community College in Michigan is a prime example of a college that has leveraged partnerships to enable success in its programs - both on the academic and on the workforce side.

In this episode, we sat down with Macomb President Dr. Jim Sawyer to talk about partnerships: who colleges should be partnering with, how to build trust among employers, how to create partnerships within the school itself, and so much more.

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. Build trust with regional employers by listening first: How has Macomb Community College built such strong partnerships with employers like General Motors that the company uses the college for all its incumbent training needs? By listening. Whether large employers like GM or the countless small-to-midsize employers in any college's region, instructors, deans and college administrators need to start the partnership process by going out into the community and listening to the needs of their employers.
  2. World-class college value partnerships within the college, as well as external ones: Often, technical and community colleges fail to have adequate communication and collaboration between their for-credit (academic) and non-credit (workforce) sides of the institution. Instead, these programs should work together to ensure their efforts are aligned. Listen to the full episode to hear why this is so vital.
  3. Partnerships should include stakeholders in industry, government, nonprofit, and the community: Macomb Community College has successfully built partnerships across the spectrum - from the Michigan Works! Association to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, from large employers like General Motors to small-and-midsize manufacturers, from the State of Michigan to the individual voters in the community. Jim shares how the efforts to build these relationships has given the college access to more resources, funding, and a larger pipeline of students.


To learn more about Macomb Community College, visit their website:

Listen to our episode with Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), referenced in this episode: Sixty by 30: Reskilling Michigan's Workforce

Connect with Macomb Community College on social media!

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