Murray State Theses and Dissertations


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine if there is a difference between current workforce skill levels and employer expectations within the Paducah micropolitan area. College and career readiness and cohort graduation rate data were collected for school systems in Kentucky from 2013 to 2016. Using both the college and career readiness data and the cohort graduation data as the dependent variables, the independent-sample t-tests were performed to compare the college and career readiness rates and cohort graduation rates of the pK-12 public schools in the Paducah micropolitan area (N = 12) versus the remaining pK-12 public schools (N = 157; N = 156) ) in Kentucky. Interviews with instructional supervisors (N = 8) and presidents or human resource directors (N = 4) of the largest employers were conducted to analyze workforce preparedness of pK-12 public school students and workforce skill level expectations of new employees in the Paducah micropolitan area. Results of the statistical analyses lacked significance, indicating high school graduates in the Paducah micropolitan area had similar skills when compared to the other graduates across the state of Kentucky. However, analysis of the interviews suggested that recently hired employees in the Paducah micropolitan area lacked essential workforce skills. The convergent mixed method design was used to obtain a complete understanding of the lack of essential workforce skills in the Paducah micropolitan area. Discussions relate the outcomes of the study to existing research of identifying and teaching the essential workforce skills for the global economy.

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Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

21st century skills, P-20, O*NET, college and career readiness, cohort graduation rate Kentucky

Dissertation Committee Chair

Teresa Clark

Committee Member

Robert Long

Committee Member

Brian Bourke

Document Type