Mission possible: skills 2010--a study of Kirkwood Community College's employers' skills and education needs

Baird, Dee
Major Professor
Larry Ebbers
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

How do employers in a rural seven-county region in the middle of the United States compete in an international market? And how does the local community college help? These questions need to be answered on an ongoing basis in order for the region served by Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to stay economically viable and for the College to fulfill its mission. The purpose of this dissertation was to conduct a research study to inform Kirkwood, as well as appropriate economic development partners and the community, about education and skill needs of employers.;Questions guiding the research were: (a) What are the workforce needs of employers in Kirkwood's seven-county service area? (b) Are employers' educational expectations changing for occupational positions? (c) What programs should Kirkwood consider implementing in order to assist employers with their workforce needs? (d) How do employers engage young people in their workplaces to offer work-based learning opportunities? (e) What are the impediments to economic growth for employers competing in a national and international economy?;The quantitative study was conducted on the theoretical framework of multiple missions, participatory action research and collaborative inquiry theory concepts. The study helped to fulfill the college's mission by obtaining employer projections in Kirkwood's seven-county region regarding employment and occupational needs. Also gathered was information about educational degrees desired, current training trends, and skill gaps. Surveys were distributed to employers within 12 strategically selected industry sectors to collect changing labor market data.;The results indicate a significant projected increase in new job growth and replacement of existing workers. Additionally, employers indicate concern related to missing skill profiles among job applicants and existing workers in the region. Area employers need an available, productive, and educated workforce as they compete on a regional, state, national, and international level.;The study demonstrates the need for program alignment with the employer community on a regional basis to provide opportunities for workers. It also provides a replicable model for other community colleges focused on workforce and economic development. The study contributes knowledge and research valuable for other community colleges to fulfill their missions.