The Single Biggest Opportunity for Associations Today?

When I was speaking with the nice folks at Naylor for Association Adviser TV, they also asked me to address:

What do you think is the single biggest opportunity for associations today?

My response? Addressing the education to employment gap.

Back in January, I had the opportunity to participate in Shelly Alcorn’s Association Forecast on the same topic. We discussed Education to Employment: Designing a System That Works, a McKinsey research report that brought together global data from students, higher education institutions, and employers to address issues related to workplace readiness. The short version is that we have a crisis in youth unemployment worldwide at the same time as we have a shortage of critical skills. And while colleges and universities think they’re properly preparing students for the workforce, students and employers – and the data – disagree.

McKinsey graph - does education prepare you for employment?

Image credit: McKinsey, Education to Employment, pg. 19

To me, this presents a tremendous opportunity for associations to fill that gap.

There are many ways we could do this: facilitating deep mentoring relationships (thus also allowing us to address the burgeoning retiring members issue), providing REAL professional development (not just some webinars and conference breakout sessions), supporting apprenticeship programs, creating certification programs, creating certificate programs (and no, those are not the same thing).

And it presents the chance for us to do good (for our members and other audiences, and our entire industries and professions) while also doing well (making the switch from being a locus of information and networking people can now get elsewhere, often for free, to providing real value).




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