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BILT Strengthens Pathways From High School to Postsecondary and Beyond

by Ayinde Rochon / Nov 2, 2021

On October 15, 2021, the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) hosted a webinar titled “Supporting High School to Community College Pathways with High Employer Engagement.” This was a virtual space in which panelists discussed a uniquely developed Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) model. As described on the NCPN website,

“The National Convergence Technology Center (NCTC) has developed the Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) model, which formalizes co-leadership between business and educators to align curriculum with workforce needs while developing a highly-engaged employer team. This model can be used to support high school to community college (and beyond) pathways” (NCPN webinar series, 2021).

BILT serves as an intensified business-advisory council consisting of employers, faculty, and possibly students to discuss pathways from high school to community college to four-year institutions to the workforce. NCPN also presented two technical college administrators as panelists to discuss how implementing BILT models into their institutions have spurred success for students and faculty.

The webinar was extremely informative as attendees were able to hear from the BILT creator herself, Ann Beheler, who offered insights on what BILT is and how it functions. She said, “A BILT is a business advisory council on steroids” (NCPN webinar series, 2021). It essentially bridges the gap among local workforce industries, technical colleges, and high schools, creating a high school-to-workforce pathway that is fueled by the support and insights from future employers and corporations. 

As described by Mark Dempsey, NCTC’s assistant director, BILT is “assemble, convene, schedule, invite, prioritize, and give feedback” (NCPN webinar series, 2021). Members of corporations who hope to be future employers for local students sit on a board in which they discuss and vote on specific entry-level knowledge, skills, and abilities that technical colleges must provide to develop workforce-ready job candidates. By convening in a caucus-like atmosphere, employers, technical school faculty members, high school instructors, and students can elaborate on how to make technical programs as beneficial as possible, stimulating graduates who are ready for the workforce. Due to the involvement of industry leaders with student and professional development, these corporations recruit and hire said students at a higher priority, strengthening the pathway. 

Beheler explained that BILTs “can work at any technical program at any size, employers are able to connect with a pipeline of workforce-ready candidates, faculty has assurance they’re teaching skills that the workforce demands, students are the first to be considered for jobs, and programs develop a pool of industry-expert advisors that will support all aspects of said technical programs” (NCPN webinar series, 2021).

Doug Hamm, of Lakeshore Technical College in Wisconsin, and Kyle Jones, of Sinclair College in Ohio, discussed ways in which their institutions have benefitted from using BILT models. Lakeshore, in correspondence with its BILT, provides high school students with the opportunity to begin dual-credit enrollment in its IT program, ensuring their credits equate to a full associate’s degree upon completion and spurring workforce-ready graduates. Students also have the option to finish their program at Lakeshore, or to attend Lakeshore first and then matriculate into a four-year institution for completion. Lakeshore contains multiple articulation agreements with various schools throughout Wisconsin, according to Hamm.

Sinclair College also offers a dual-credit program, in which local high school teachers instruct students to attain college credit. The school also provides training for teachers who want to become certified instructors in the field. Jones said that BILT members are likely to recruit and hire students who are a part of this pathway network, as they have had a first-person relationship with students who are ready to work for their company. Jones listed Kroger and Macy’s as examples of partnered companies used in the past. Lakeshore offers full college credit at no cost to stimulate access to underrepresented communities in the IT industry, while Sinclair provides free transportation to recruitment events so that discrepancies in access are not an issue.

As described on the OCCRL Pathways to Results (PTR) website, PTR “strives to improve student transitions that occur to and through postsecondary education and into employment." The BILT model follows these goals because it serves as a liaison between employers, colleges, and high schools to establish and strengthen pathways. By meeting regularly and discussing the pitfalls and successes of the pathways thus far, we will continue to see them strengthen for the upcoming generations of students, graduates, and employed individuals of society.



Pathways to Results (PTR). OCCRL. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2021.

Supporting High School to Community College Pathways with High Employer Engagement. 2021 NCPN webinar series - professional development. (2021, October 15). Retrieved October 27, 2021, from