Date of Graduation

12-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Workforce Development Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Kit Kacirek

Committee Member

Paul Cronan

Second Committee Member

Jack De Vore, Jr.

Third Committee Member

Michael T. Miller

Fourth Committee Member

Cheryl Murphy

Abstract

Employers of newly hired higher education graduates report their new workforce is not prepared. Further research was required to discover insights to the workforce readiness gap. This concurrent mixed methods study explored what competencies influenced employer's perceptions of the work-readiness of Information Systems (ISYS) undergraduate students and discovered ISYS graduates' and current ISYS students' perceptions of their work-readiness. Participants consisted of a convenience sample including 69 ISYS program upperclassmen, 20 ISYS program alumni, and 8 employers of the ISYS program graduates. ISYS program alumni completed an online Qualtrics survey to measure the participants' perception of their workforce preparedness. ISYS program upperclassmen completed a similar paper-based survey to measure the students' current perception of their workforce readiness. Employers of ISYS program graduates were interviewed to determine (1) how they defined workforce readiness, (2) the competencies associated with being workforce-ready, and (3) the degree to which the Sam M. Walton College of Business graduates demonstrated workforce readiness. The instrument used in this study was adopted from the employer survey used in the Are They Really Ready to Work?: Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce report by Casner-Lotto, Barrington, & Wright (2006) and the Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Training report by Casner-Lotto, Rosenblum, & Wright (2009). The reports were produced by ASTD, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and SHRM.

Research findings demonstrated 91% of ISYS program alumni and 86.9% of upperclassmen believed they were adequately to well prepared for the workforce by the ISYS program. Additionally, 75% of ISYS graduates' employers felt the students were adequately to somewhat well prepared for the workforce. Workforce readiness skills measured in this study included English Language (spoken), Writing in English, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Collaboration/Working with Others, Computer/Technical, Project Management, Knowledge within Major, General Business Knowledge, Willingness to Learn, Ability to Learn, Responsibility/Dependability, Initiative, Attitude Toward Work, Attendance/Punctuality, and Other skills not mentioned.