Advisory Committee Toolkit Setup


Advisory Committee Toolkit

III. Setup of Advisory Committees

One of the most effective ways of providing a link between the community and the educational system is through advisory committees. Advisory committees:

  • Allow the community to be linked to the educational system;
  • Can guide, strengthen, and improve existing or new CTE programs; and
  • Allow business, industry, and labor representatives to add expertise and resources to the CTE program.

The advisory committee is basically a tool for educators to "talk to their customers."

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 programs 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.

Resource  See Resource 3.1 for a worksheet that will help you determine whether to use a joint committee or separate committees.

Cross-Representation Structure

An alternative structure when having separate advisory committees is to have representatives on each committee.

Resource  Use Resource 3.2 to identify "cross-representatives" for the two committees.

Rural Areas

Rural areas must deal with special considerations and challenges when setting up the advisory committee.

Committees can look for ways to expand and enhance the involvement of small businesses by having them leverage their connections with

  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Other business contacts.

Committees may also want to work through the local chamber if they are members. Be sure to give small businesses plenty of recognition as many of them have lived in the community for years.

Other Connections—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.

Resource  See Resource 3.2A for a "systems point of view checklist."


Officers, working closely with the educational department chair, can save time for teachers/administrators, and it is strongly recommended that you attempt to get officers early in your formation of the committee.

Chairperson: The Chairperson (working with the educational department chair) can:

  • preside at meetings;
  • call meetings;
  • appoint necessary subcommittees; and
  • represent the advisory committee in other groups.

The chair will create and maintain a cohesive, effective group and create an environment that is conducive to positive committee action.

Secretary: The Secretary oversees the administrative functions of the committee. The secretary could be a representative from business/industry and staff support from the college should be assigned to assist the secretary.

Staff Support: To achieve its purpose in a timely fashion, an advisory committee must have adequate administrative and clerical staffing. Many times this is provided by the department in which the CTE program resides. Staff Support typically records meeting minutes and perform clerical duties as needed.

Resource  Use Resource 3.3 to identify advantages of having officers in your advisory committee structure.

Resource  Use Resource 3.4 to determine your committee's structure and identify officers.

Resource  Use Resource 3.5 to identify roles and responsibilities of the officers.

Selection of Chairperson

The chairperson should be from business/industry. The two main roles of the chair are to set meeting agendas and conduct meetings.

Resource  Use Resource 3.6 to rate potential candidates for chairperson.

Selection of Business Members

Advisory Committees should consist primarily of employers. Many advisory committees reflect that with 51% majority of employers. Effective business members stay informed about changes in their industries.

Resource  Use Resource 3.7 to rate potential business members.

Other Members

Even though the majority of committee members should be from business and industry, a broader representation could benefit from understanding the works of an advisory committee and serve as non-voting, consulting members. The following educational representatives should be present to receive advice and answer questions:

  • secondary and postsecondary CTE instructors;
  • administrators;
  • counselors; and
  • general education (academic) faculty

Former students should only be on your advisory committee if they are actively working in the industry.

Resource  Use Resource 3.8 to inventory nonvoting and/or consulting members by job classification.

Terms of Office

Each advisory committee should establish its own criteria and guidelines for member recruitment, selection, appointment, and replacement. Committee membership should be reviewed and updated yearly to ensure broad-based representation of the industry and to ensure that the work of the committee continues.

Resource  Use Resource 3.9 to determine the term limits and number of allowable successive terms for your officers and business members.

Request, Confirmation, and Orientation of New Members

A formal letter requesting membership should be sent only after an informal face-to-face meeting or phone conversation discussing the potential member's contribution and role on the advisory committee.

All advisory committee members should receive a copy of the section entitled Career Pathways Advisory Committee Members Guide.

Resource  See Resources 3.10, 3.11, and 3.12 for samples regarding correspondence about membership.

The committee's success will depend to a large extent on how well members understand their roles at the first meeting they attend. New and continuing advisory committee members should be regularly provided with information relative to the committee's purpose, function, structure, and goals as expressed in the committee's work plan.

What do new business members need to understand?

  • Educational institutions and/or systems

  • Programs offered

  • Role and responsibilities as a member

  • Committee’s work plan

Resource  Use Resource 3.13 to list items to be included in orientation of new members.


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