What is an advisory committee and what can my program gain from having one?

Each advisory committee is made up of individuals with experience and expertise in the occupational field(s) that the program serves who advise educators on the design, development, implementation, evaluation, maintenance, and revision of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs within a career pathway. (For more information on Career Clusters and career pathways in Colorado, link to the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) Career and Technical Education website: Career Clusters). An advisory committee is required for every approved career and technical education (CTE) program in Colorado as it is considered to be an invaluable part of the program, and ultimately, the student’s success in a given career path.

In addition to fulfilling a state requirement in Colorado, advisory committees help to:

  • Allow the community to be linked to the educational system via business, industry, and labor
    representatives that add expertise and resources to the CTE program;
  • Identify new and emerging fields and modify existing programs;
  • Promote communication among education, business, and industry regarding employment
    needs of the community;
  • Identify new and emerging fields (both local and global) and modify existing programs;
  • Strengthen programs by providing student competency lists and reviewing curriculum;
  • Ensure that each career pathway academic ladder matches the corresponding industry career
    ladder and promote career pathways within the community;
  • Review student outcomes (completion rates, placement rates, and state licensing examination
    outcomes);
  • Ensure that programs are relevant and up-to-date by assessing the equipment and facilities
    available and make recommendations as needed;
  • Provide work-based learning experiences for learners;
  • Provide training opportunities for educators;
  • Advocate programs to communities and legislators and seek legislative support for career
    pathways if needed;
  • Assist with placement of program completers; and
  • Leverage community resources (equipment, facilities, materials, and broker community
    partnerships).

Why do I need to consider the committee structure?

One of the first questions that needs to be asked when you set up your advisory committee, is what type of functionality and connectivity do I need to have from my committee, and across what levels (middle school to postsecondary) does my program span within my community? The following are several types of structures to consider given the depth and breadth of your program:

Joint Structure

Since the onset of Perkins IV, a trend of joint secondary and postsecondary advisory committees has taken place across the country. Career pathways require secondary and postsecondary educators to work together to develop plans of study with business and industry. In a career pathways system, the curriculum is to be developed together and placed over two or more institutions.

Thus, a joint advisory committee that brings together secondary educators, postsecondary educators, and industry would be advantageous. Likewise, as secondary district expand CTE opportunities, it may be advantageous to combine middle school and secondary advisory committees.

Cross-Representation Structure

Recognizing that Colorado has many geographic obstacles that make collaboration between Secondary and Postsecondary Institutions challenging, an alternative structure when having separate advisory committees is to have representatives on each committee. It is strongly encouraged for secondary programs to include information and data from postsecondary programs. This could be a Postsecondary Plan of Study or feedback from postsecondary instructors on the success of students they have from the secondary program. Likewise, middle school programs should seek similar partnerships with the secondary programs available in their district.

Adopting a “Systems” Viewpoint

Typically, occupational education programs within a pathway must be coordinated with other federal or state initiatives to avoid unnecessary duplication of programs and services. Advisory committees must be made aware of initiatives or legislation that will affect the program, and there may be a need to coordinate or make connections with other activities. While this may seem overwhelming to a person new to starting an advisory committee or to the committee members themselves, it helps to visualize the ways that programs are connected on the education spectrum as well as to other resources and entities within the economic system of the community and the State of Colorado.

The following are committees to consider when adopting a systems viewpoint for your advisory committee:

CCCS Discipline Teams

Commonly refers to a group of postsecondary faculty teaching within the same prefix or group of prefixes that discuss new courses and updates to existing courses led by an elected Discipline chair.

CCCS Content Teams

Commonly refers to a committee of secondary and postsecondary instructors led by an elected chair and the CCCS program director for that content area focused on aligning secondary and postsecondary curriculum and considering statewide possibilities for articulation.

Connection to Economic Development

Local economic development identify current and future solutions to workforce development issues and to find ways to target local, state, and federal resources.

Entities frequently conduct labor-force surveys, which can be invaluable to advisory committees.

Local Workforce Board (WIB) Connections

Coordinates, integrates, measures and evaluates regional workforce preparation services

Make sure there is connection to this board

College/University Connections

Pathway may need two levels of workers — AAS and BS.

Pathway may need to be articulated or have a capstone program.

Where do I find members for my committee?

Looking at the systems viewpoint is also a great way to look for new members for your advisory committee. In addition to the resources listed on the previous page, you should also consider the following:

  • Employers in your area
  • Grants or foundations that may exist in your community even if they are not related to education
  • Professional Groups within the Career Area (ex. Colorado Association for Mechanical Engineers)
  • Equipment Vendors
  • Past students or parents of students working in the career field

It is important to note, that institutions may have a specific protocol for contacting community members to serve in an advisory capacity. Please check with your administration prior to contacting outside parties.

I am ready to start contacting possible committee members; what works best?

While there is no right or wrong way to solicit potential members for your program’s advisory committee, many advisors have found that a personal invitation, such as a phone call works well to introduce yourself and the program. This can be followed up with a formal invitation. We’ve included several templates and dialogs to begin your conversation with future committee members. In general, when inviting members, either informally or formally, you should:

  • Identify yourself and your role in the program
  • Let the potential member know how you received their contact information (personal referral, or a general statement, such as “I see that your company manufactures “X” that we use in our program, and we would love for you to be part of our program because…”
  • Let the person know what makes your program unique or valuable to the community
  • Identify what the potential member can bring to the advisory committee (i.e. their area of expertise, experience with projects, other boards, etc.) and how they can help the program
  • Give the general time commitment for committee participation (i.e. we meet 4 times a year, etc.)
  • Give your contact information, or set up a time to discuss any further questions

How do I attract potential advisory committee members?

A quick brochure on your program is really helpful in highlighting your program’s value in the community. Many programs also have a simple advising sheet that shows the sequence o