Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Stone, James R.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

Shuck, Brad

Committee Member

Warnock, Deborah

Author's Keywords

Apprenticeships; College and career readiness; Skills gap


Apprenticeship programs; Vocational education; Business and education


In recent years economic and demographic changes, concerns with high school dropout and academic achievement, high college incompletion rates and a skills gaps in the labor market have caused policy makers, educators and employers to seek solutions to the education and training of students that enhance their skills to make them college and career ready. Apprenticeships have resurfaced as an educational approach that can bridge the gap between education and work when aligned with the values and expectations of major key players, namely students, employers and educators, with the substantive support of policy makers. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe an apprenticeship program targeted at high school students and aimed at addressing the employer skills needs in an advanced manufacturing company located in the Midwestern United States. The participants included students, teachers, administrators, and employers involved in the program. The main research question guiding the study was, what is the role of apprenticeships in enhancing adolescents’ college and career readiness and meeting employer skills needs? Additional sub-questions provided insights into participants’ experiences as they engaged with the program. Study findings revealed how a strong collaborative partnership between the employer and educational institutions was vi critical to the successful organization and implementation of the program. The uniqueness of the program was how it was structured to allow for career exploration and progression into higher education. Students reported that their academic, technical and employability/soft skills had been enhanced as a result of participating in the program. The study also revealed the importance of aligning students’ career goals with the employer’s goals. Findings from this research may be of interest to employers looking to partner with educators to address their skills needs. Additionally, lessons learned from this program could inform future programs targeted at high schoolers enrolled in skilled trades programs in career and technical education. A logic model that provides the basis for an effective high school-industry apprenticeship program that can address the skills gap was proposed. Building on the traditional framework of youth apprenticeship, the model also stressed flexibility and progression: values that are central to American youth in the 21st century. Keywords: apprenticeships, college and career readiness, skills gap