(Photo by Flickr user Wally Gobetz, used under a Creative Commons license)
It’s no secret that Downtown Brooklyn’s innovation economy is booming. The economic impact of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle — from Downtown to DUMBO to the Navy Yard — is expected to more than triple in the next decade to $15.5 billion by 2025.
This trend toward entrepreneurship is leaving many students to question the value of a college degree over a jump directly into the startup world. The question persists, then, how higher-education institutions can attract and retain student talent to create a steady pipeline of workers equipped with the breadth of skills needed to keep the innovation economy thriving — and competitive on a global scale.
As home to nearly a dozen institutes of higher education and more than 66,000 students, Downtown Brooklyn is specifically ripe for a solution to tackle these issues within the changing higher-ed landscape. That’s why the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership launched the Brooklyn Education Innovation Network (BE.IN).
Chiefly, BE.IN works to improve access to jobs and internships, and build the pathways necessary for colleges and universities to collaborate on cost-cutting and resource sharing in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. Specifically, by connecting students and startups, the BE.IN model directly addresses the demand for jobs in the area and provides fresh resources to students and businesses.
This week, that work will take center stage at our BE.INnovative Symposium, which will convene some of Brooklyn’s sharpest minds across academia and industry.
Three highlights include an All-Star Innovator panel featuring key startup founders and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn, the Her Innovation panel focused on the cutting-edge work led by women in the borough and the Hack Brooklyn Innovation Challenge, a weekend-long hackathon focused on solutions for a sustainable Brooklyn with a first prize award of $2,000.
This approach, linking Brooklyn students to local businesses through symposia, jobs, internships, pitch competitions and meetups, exposes students to more opportunities to stay in the New York area after graduation and further contribute to the local economy. At the faculty level, the connection to local industry leaders has great potential to enhance the teaching and learning process, as well as to foster innovative partnerships. By coordinating resources among member institutions, everyone gets a better educational experience and the schools become more competitive on a global scale.
Brooklyn-based higher-ed institutions have decided that they are stronger working together, offering programs and resources to students that provide direct access to local employers and opportunities to enhance their professional skill sets. Their competitive advantage is making Brooklyn’s higher-education sector more efficient and effective and creating a sense of community. Together, we are creating a true College Town feel here in Brooklyn.
BE.IN also helps tackle the problem of declining student applicant numbers. Studies show that the Northeast faces a major demographic shift as the number of high school graduates in the region continues to decline, resulting in fewer applications to higher education institutions. BE.IN aims to bring a holistic approach to branding, marketing and sustainable relationship management in order to develop the K-12 pipeline.
Most importantly, our overall effort focuses on the student life cycle. From high school graduation through to job placement, we have initiatives in our plan that incentivize recruitment and retention — including international pipeline admissions programs, and work to ensure and ensure that students gain local employment opportunities.
Like every other industry in the United States, higher education is not immune to the winds of change. Technology, demographics and economic realities demand a paradigm shift in how we structure our educational system. BE.IN offers a comprehensive, community-based approach to college collaboration that is intended to maximize students’ experiences and prepare them for the 21st-century job market.
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