Catch Them Young and Watch Them Grow: CSR Initiatives in Primary and Secondary Education

CSR Initiatives in Primary and Secondary Education

CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives can extend to the realm of primary and secondary education. This entails close engagement and involvement of corporates in the schools, colleges, and universities where the corporates provide for funds, training, and associated programs with a view to educate the future workforce on how the corporate world works and the expectations from the future employees. It has been found that in many developing countries, there is a disconnect between the education that the students receive during their graduate programs and the expectations from them when they join the workforce. Indeed, it has been estimated that out of the millions of graduates in countries like China and India, only 10-20 percent are employable meaning that the rest do not have language, comprehension, verbal, and aptitude based skills to find gainful and meaningful employment. This is the reason why many industry bodies in these countries have taken it upon themselves to reach out to the colleges and universities and impart skill based training programs so that the students upon graduation can be employed and be employable.

A Win-Win Situation for All Stakeholders

The other aspect about corporate outreach in schools, colleges, and universities has to do with building a brand image among the future workforce. Not only does this help the corporates in recruiting potential employees who are the best and the brightest but would help them in inculcating a sense of what it takes to succeed in the corporate world upon graduation. Indeed, as part of the brand building exercise, the corporates can also provide for funds to the schools, colleges, and universities so that the equipment and the technology for vocational skill building can be provided for. In other words, the corporates can combine their CSR activities with brand building and this would be a double whammy that would benefit all stakeholders in the process. Apart from this, the corporates can also fund needy students so that they can complete their education. Further, it has become the practice for many corporates to institute leadership awards in business schools that are targeted at women leaders, future leaders and potential leaders so that the leadership skills can be honed right from the time the students start their education. This is the case with many business schools in the west where leading companies often give out leadership awards to those whom they consider potential leaders.

Industry Academia Collaboration is good for alignment of objectives

The third aspect about CSR initiatives in primary and secondary education is that they help the collaboration between the industry and the academia, which would result in close alignment of what the corporates want and what the universities teach. In other words, in many universities, there is a disconnect between the research undertaken in the universities and the emerging trends that industry and the corporates are handling. This disconnect can be remedied by close engagement and collaboration between the researchers and the faculty in the universities so that there is alignment of objectives between these stakeholders. Further, by instituting chairs and fellowships, the corporates can benefit from increased exposure and involvement with academia. This is the case in most of the leading universities in the west that have dedicated programs that are funded by corporates.

Concluding Remarks: Catch Them Young and Watch Them Grow

Finally, the combination of CSR and brand building as well as funding and working closely with primary and secondary education is a win-win situation for all stakeholders. As the title of this article states, it is better to catch them young and watch them grow. In other words, identifying future leaders, nurturing talent and incubating ideas right from school and college is a noble initiative that brings in good rewards for the students and the corporates and helps in aligning the objectives between academia and corporates.


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