Candidate: Alton Leon Alford
Doctor of Education
August 27, 2002
With an identified skills shortage looming over many U.S. corporations and businesses, companies are facing the prospect of finding new ways to staff themselves with qualified workers. In that businesses must be aware of and contemplate numerous factors that contribute to the implementation of successful workforce development strategies, the use of other seemingly plausible approaches such as school-to-work (STW) warrant investigation to determine its value in addressing future workforce development challenges. Therefore, from the perspective of employers hosting STW experiences, students involved in STW experiences, and the parents of those students, this study provides insight on intricate relationships between these key stakeholder groups, and the similarities and benefits that they identified through their involvement. Data was gathered through questionnaires and interviews given to (a) representatives from a large, mid-sized and small manufacturer involved in West Michigan's furniture industry (b) participating high school students in STW activities at those businesses, and (c) their parents. Insight was offered into: (1) the effectiveness of STW activities in addressing the workforce development needs, (2) STW activities of greatest benefit to workforce development efforts, (3) obstacles to employer involvement, (4) stakeholder views on the most beneficial activities, (5) student benefits, and (6) the impact of parental involvement.
The study revealed: (1) that in general STW activities benefited workforce development efforts of businesses and enhanced student education, (2) issues that hinder businesses involvement are not always seen clearly by stakeholders, (3) that visual and contextual learning enhance student school-to-work learning, and (4) that increase information flow to parents by businesses can maximize benefits from parental involvement.
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