Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Richard Hammett


Many cities in the United States have experienced job loss due to a shift from industrial-based to information and service economies, as well as the outsourcing of labor jobs to overseas locations. In the absence of industrial jobs once occupied by low-skilled workers, the problem that compelled this study was a perceived gap between the skills required by the employers who now hire such workers and the actual skills those workers have. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the espoused skills required by employers in a rural region of the southeastern United States to inform the curricula alignment of a supporting workforce training center (WTC) that provides training and skills certification to the area’s workforce. The research questions guiding this study were designed to help explore and understand the needs of employers and whether the WTC was adequately training low-skilled workers to meet those needs. The conceptual framework for the study included Mezirow’s transformational learning theory. The sampling method was purposeful to include only Chamber of Commerce members as potential business participants. The participants consisted of 14 business managers, supervisors, and human resource directors from local businesses, as well as the local WTC director. Overall, the WTC curricula aligned with the employer identified skills, even though the WTC did not provide industry-specific skills training for some of the represented industries. In addition, not all employers were aware of and utilized WTC services when looking for new hires. Recommended strategies to increase collaboration between the WTC and local businesses are provided in a policy project paper. Positive change occurs when WTCs prepare and place the unemployed in jobs and careers.