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Education: The Key to Member Growth and Loyalty

Terry Ibele 16 September 2016 0 comments

educationIf your association targets recent graduates, young professionals, and those looking to gain more employable credentials (or would like to), you may be familiar with the current educational landscape:

  • Total student debt in the U.S. is $1.23 trillion and rising
  • By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the United States will require some form of postsecondary education or training
  • In the United States in 2015, 32 percent of employers reported struggling to find qualified workers. 
These harrowing statistics may seem unrelated to the association world, but they actually present an untapped opportunity to attract and engage new members. Nonprofit consultants Shelly Alcorn and Elizabeth Weaver Engel explore how associations can adapt to this educational landscape in their new white paper, The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm.white paper In their white paper, they argue that by offering highly-needed educational programs in their specific vocations, associations can cater to the increasing need for education in a way that traditional education providers cannot.

“Where conventional educational curricula come up short, associations provide industry-specific bodies of knowledge. Where diplomas fail to demonstrate specific competencies, credible and well-designed credentialing and certification efforts can fill the gap.”

Among the specific suggestions Shelly and Elizabeth offer to take advantage of this opportunity, they recommend that associations can start adapting by:

  • Offering Micro-Credentials and Badges: a mix and match of credentials and courses necessary to meet specific employer requirements
  • Creating Blended Learning Environments: offering both knowledge acquisition and practical experience in a socially supportive environment
  • Being Specific and Strategic When Deciding on Delivery Mechanisms: offering education through a variety of formats including webinars, workshops, networking, and more
“We see the potential for associations to become even more important players in the personal and professional lives of the individuals and institutions they serve. We in associations currently represent every industry and profession (“there’s an association for everything!”), and we will continue to do so for new professions that are emerging.”

Shelly and Elizabeth also found a unique case of an association that offered a university accredited program by partnering with a university.

“This could potentially radically change the relationships between associations, the industries and professions they serve, and the colleges and universities that supply their incoming workforce. With the resources of a university behind them, associations could potentially become a fully integrated part of the larger educational system.”

If your association is looking to attract more members through educational value, Shelly and Elizabeth’s white paper gives further details on how associations can take a strategic approach:

  1. Adopt a Global Perspective
  2. Dedicate Resources
  3. Review the Oxford University Report, “The Future of Employment.”
  4. Be Entrepreneurial
  5. Break Silos
  6. Solve Problems
  7. Expand Your Thinking
Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and the skills gap are major global problems, and Shelly and Elizabeth argue that associations have a unique role to play in addressing it. This presents a huge  opportunity for associations to do good for their members and other audiences while doing well for themselves in generating loyalty and non-dues revenue. As Shelly often remarks, “Nothing creates more loyalty than ‘the association helped me find a job, keep a job, and find a better job.’”

Or to quote the white paper, “Associations may very well hold some of the keys to the learning kingdom in our hands, and we have a responsibility to use them wisely.”

Click here for to access The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm.

Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Posted by Terry Ibele [Learning Apricot]

Published Friday, 16 September 2016 at 12:06 PM
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