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Partnering with Institutional Vendors for Local Hires

Not all the jobs on a university campus are sponsored directly by the institution. Many large anchor institutions establish contracts with major vendors for functions like food, custodial, and security services, and this may represent a large swath of jobs that are inaccessible to local residents unless you have an agreement with the vendors for local hiring.

Seek out like-minded vendors 

It can be an uphill battle to persuade a vendor to care about local investment if that is not already part of their established corporate values. Contracting with vendors who identify local investment as part of their corporate mission makes the path to success significantly less rocky. 

Write commitments for local hiring into RFP and vendor contracts

Getting commitments down on paper is one of the most reliable ways to make progress in a local employment strategy, and it makes your institutional goals clear and unmistakable to vendors. 

For institutions that are not in a position to impose local hiring requirements on a vendor, you can opt to increase awareness and accountability by writing into contracts a schedule for simply reporting on any local hiring activity. We have found that quarterly reporting is manageable for our vendor partners. This is a way of showing the vendor that you care about this issue, and it can come into play as a factor in future contract renewals. 

A potential for low overhead with measurable benefits

A relationship around local hires with vendors can be as much or as little overhead as you are able to take on – our strategy is to connect major vendors with our local workforce capacity building and access partner. We are not taking on the training ourselves as an institution but rather introducing vendors to the local agency with whom they can contract for customized recruitment and training to create a mutual win. 

Don’t forget smaller scale vendors

When considering smaller on-campus vendors – these are mostly food and retail - we survey them periodically about local hiring, and we make sure they are aware of opportunities to connect with local job seekers. Although these vendors are often eager to partner with us on employment practices, follow-through can be a challenge.  


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