Preliminary Organizational Planning
Good planning forms the base for a sound, workable advisory committee. Although the planning steps will vary, the following points should be considered when an educator or administrator is spearheading the drive to form an advisory committee. The information on each point contained in this handbook can be adapted to the local situation in developing occupational or general advisory committees, or used as presented.
Discuss the potential formation of the advisory committee with school administrators, instructors, and members of the community. If advisory committees have been attempted previously in the system or school and failed, look for the reasons for failure. If any negative feelings concerning advisory committees are found, move slowly and lay careful groundwork before proposing formation of the advisory committee.
After the appropriate administrator(s) have been informed and have provided support for at least exploring the possibility of forming an advisory committee, prepare a written statement that includes the following:
Request the appropriate administrator(s) to approve the statement and to include it in a written request to the governing board asking for authorization to form the advisory committee.
Obtaining administrative support is a very important step. Educators should consult the administration for advice and follow the established procedures.
After the formation of an advisory committee has been approved, the next step is the signing of a statement of purposes by the school board or community college trustees. The following sample may be copied or amended to fit local needs. Once signed, this statement of purposes becomes the charter under which the advisory committee operates.
The size of an occupational advisory committee should not be mandated. Too many factors affect the optimal size, including the number of employers in the area served, the diversity of job offerings within the community or occupation, etc. All job specialties for which students are trained should be represented, and both the employers and employees selected should represent their employment fields in numbers proportionate to local business and industry. Select enough members to give an adequate base for opinions, yet limit the number so that members can comfortably and freely discuss business. Normally, between five and fifteen members produce the most effective committee.
Advisory committees represent the views and needs of the public in the design of Career and Technical Education programs. All segments of the involved population (in the case of a general advisory committee) or the occupation (for an occupational advisory committee) must be included in the membership. Members should be knowledgeable of the Workforce Development needs of the community. A school system or postsecondary institution is not being fair to itself or its constituency if it designs Career and Technical Education programs around a limited portion of an occupation and then chooses advisory committee members only from that portion.
One important role a good advisory committee performs is to broaden the perspective of school personnel. Individuals view training needs from their own experience. A broad perspective requires that persons with differing backgrounds combine to give input and advice. Avoid selecting members who have a political motivation for committee service or who have a specific "pet project" they want to promote over the welfare of the overall program.
Most Career and Technical Education programs enjoy greater benefits when the general advisory committee members represent the community leaders at-large or influential members of the community. The occupational program advisory committee benefits when both workers and supervisors are represented on the committee. People who actually perform the skills and those who hire and supervise can then work together to give the instructional staff an accurate picture of the community's employment needs.
Choose members of general advisory committees to represent the community as a whole. Representatives of the following groups may be included:
Consider the following groups of people when choosing occupational advisory committee members:
Terms of Service
It must be decided the length of appointments for advisory committee members. Many effective ways to determine length of terms are in use. Mostly, it is preferred to set a time limit for both occupational and general advisory committee terms and to define the size of the committee in writing. This procedure promotes a continuing flow of new ideas that helps keep the committee's advice current and relevant. The most common organization is three-year terms of service staggered so that one-third of the members are replaced each year. Advantages of this organization include the following:
When the terms of service are limited and defined, the question of reappointment arises. Is membership limited to one, two or more terms? Can former members be reappointed after a time lapse? Establishing policies on these issues avoids potential problems later.
A disadvantage of reappointment is that a member may take it personally when some members are reappointed and others are not. However, certain members may be so valuable to a program that a system or school will want to continue their appointments. A policy of reappointment after a time lapse (usually of one year) can allow for these situations.