Employer Partners and Business & Industry Leadership Teams (BILT)

Employee partners
At Harper College, we believe in the power of collaboration to shape a stronger workforce and thriving community. As a forward-thinking institution, we are dedicated to establishing meaningful partnerships with employers like you. Together, we can bridge the gap between education and industry, ensuring our students graduate with the skills and knowledge that match your evolving needs.

Why partner with Harper?

Employers stand to gain numerous benefits by partnering with Harper. Partnerships offer a win-win-win situation, benefiting employers, students, and Harper. Here are a few reasons why employers should be excited to partner with Harper.

  • Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Curriculum will be specifically designed to align with regional employer workforce needs and continuously updated to reflect the latest industry trends, best practices, and emerging technology advancements.
  • Access to Skilled Talent Pipeline: By engaging with us, you gain access to a pool of skilled, diverse, talented students who are trained specifically in emerging technologies. Employers can tap this talent pool to meet their workforce needs.
  • Reduced Hiring Costs: Collaborating with Harper allows employers to recruit candidates who are already equipped with the required skills, reducing the need for extensive training and onboarding.
  • Efficient Recruitment: Employers can engage directly with students through job fairs, guest lectures, workshops, and internships, streamlining their recruitment process.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Partnering with Harper provides access to a diverse pool of students, contributing to a more inclusive and equitable workforce.
  • Positive Impact on Students: Employers who provide internships, mentorship, and opportunities for hands-on experience positively impact students' educational journeys, enhancing their confidence and employability.

How can you partner with Harper?

Become a Business & Industry Leadership Team (BILT) member today! By collaborating closely with Harper, employers can help us can create cutting-edge programs that produce job-ready graduates, bridge skills gaps, and contribute to the regional innovative ecosystem. You can help us by:

  • Identifying Industry Needs and Trends: As a member of a Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT), you will validate and prioritize a pro forma list of knowledge, skills, and abilities to ensure programs align with the knowledge and skills your workforce requires. Meetings are designed to include time for industry trend discussions and networking.
  • Co-Leading Development of Curriculum: BILT members collaborate with and provide input to faculty for the development of curriculum that incorporates prioritized KSAs, practical skills, hands-on projects, and industry-relevant case studies. This ensures graduates possess the skills employers need 12-36 months into the future. Faculty continue to serve as the education and curriculum development experts.
  • Providing Workforce Insights: Invite community college faculty to your workplace to gain first-hand insight into your organization's operations and needs. This experience informs the design of experiential learning opportunities.
  • Offering Real-World Experience for Students: Provide student the chance to gain real-world experience through work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing, providing them with a practical understanding of your industry. 
  • Establishing Technology Partnerships: Share technology or equipment to give students access to state-of-the-art tools to enhance learning and students' practical skills.
  • Supporting Hackathons and Competitions: Collaborate on hackathons, coding challenges, or competitions. These events encourage students to showcase their skills while addressing real-world problems.

Business and Industry Leadership Teams (BILT)

Harper's Innovation Accelerator is implementing new BILT advisory councils that engage technical executives, technicians, and other industry professionals to actively co-lead program focus and design.

What Is the BILT advisory council?

The BILT model allows employers to be “co-leaders” with faculty continuing to serve as the education and curriculum experts. Faculty stays 100% in control of the curriculum. Employers focus on the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs)/Knowledge Units (KUs), not classroom content. Faculty design the curriculum based on employer input and decide how and when to cover the entry-level skills the employers request. The BILT model simply keeps the educators better informed.

How is the BILT structured?

Your time commitment is less than six hours per year!

We know your time is valuable and the BILT process makes very efficient use of your time with very structured meetings that start and end on time. There are 3-4 meetings per year. Every year, one of the meetings (hybrid format) focuses solely on validating and prioritizing a list of KSAs (Cybersecurity uses KUs). This ensures curriculum remains relevant and current. After the KSA/KU meeting, there is a virtual feedback meeting at which faculty provide feedback to employers regarding KSAs/KUs that were incorporated into the curriculum and which were not, if any. Faculty provide justification should that happen and those are discussed. This closes the curriculum loop with our BILT members. The other two meetings are hybrid format and focus on industry trends, program updates, and networking. These meetings will engage BILT members, faculty, staff, and potentially students.

While it takes only a small amount of your time, the benefits to our regional workforce and economic development will be massive.

Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Infrastructure BILTs

To address the limited supply of skilled workers in Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Infrastructure in Northeast Illinois, Harper College is building innovative business-led AI and Cloud Infrastructure programs funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Labor. We are currently seeking employers, technical executives, technicians, specialists, and other industry professionals to join our AI and/or Cloud Computing BILTs.

AI and Cloud BILT Meeting Schedule

You can learn more about the BILT model at our next Emerging Technologies BILT Orientation virtual session being held on October 10, 2023 at 8:30 am. Please use this link to register.

Up Next: The AI BILT KSA meeting is scheduled for November 2, 2023. It is a hybrid meeting. Register here.

Up Next: The Cloud BILT KSA meeting is also a hybrid meeting and is scheduled for November 16, 2023 at 8:30 am. Register here.

Cybersecurity BILT

To address the massive shortage of qualified Cybersecurity job candidates in Northeast Illinois, Harper College is building an innovative business-led Cybersecurity and Information Assurance program funded by a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Labor. We are continuing to recruit new members for the Cybersecurity BILT. Please contact us at innovation@harpercollege.edu if you are interested in being a part of this exciting new program.

Cybersecurity BILT Meeting Schedule

The next BILT meeting is the Industry Trends Meeting scheduled for December 5, 2023 at 8:30 am. Quickly let us know how you will be attending the meeting here. This meeting focuses on discussing industry innovation 3-5 years into the future as well as any questions or reporting from Harper personnel.

August 22, 2023: Employer feedback session was held virtually from 8:30 am to 10:00 am. Recording is available here (password is CyberBILT2). This meeting covered the results of the KU prioritization and faculty cross-reference to the curriculum.

June 28, 2023: Knowledge Units (KU)/Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) hybrid meeting was held with BILT members.

June 8, 2023: Virtual BILT Orientation Meeting introduced employers and other industry professionals to the new Cybersecurity BILT advisory council model being used for this new program. Click here to review the recording (password is CyberBILT1).

Prioritizing Equity in Emerging Technologies Pathways at Harper 



Harper's new $1.6 million Prioritizing Equity in Emerging Technologies Pathways at Harper (EmergingTech@Harper) project is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration's Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant (SCC3) program. Over the next four years, Harper is developing new emerging technologies career pathways, including a technical bridge program for students needing basic skills support, short-term and credit certificates, industry-recognized credentails, and associate degrees. This project also seeks to increase the number of women and people of color in IT-related career fields.

The new Cybersecurity program will align with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Framework and the standards for the National Security Agency National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cybersecurity program so that Harper can earn the designation as a CAE. Courses will be designed to align with industry-recognized credential guidelines including CompTIA, (ISC)2, EC-Council, and other certifications. For more information on this grant contact SCC3 Grant Project Director Martha Karavitis-Hemmati via email at mkaravit@harpercollege.edu

Join us in transforming education and training, preparing a skilled workforce, and driving regional economic development. To learn more about becoming a BILT member and exploring the many benefits of collaboration, please contact us at innovation@harpercollege.edu. Together, we can build a brighter future for our students, your organization, and the entire community.



Innovation Accelerator logo

Last Updated: 9/21/23