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Understanding Perceptions of Post-Secondary Education Among Rural Manufacturing Business Managers

Fiely, Stephanie (2020) Understanding Perceptions of Post-Secondary Education Among Rural Manufacturing Business Managers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study explored the ways post-secondary education intertwines with manufacturing in northwestern Pennsylvania with a particular focus on the perspectives of rural manufacturing business managers. The purpose of the study was to learn what skills and education the rural manufacturing business professionals believed their employees needed, how the professionals communicated their business and employee challenges with post-secondary educational leaders, and how their perceptions of post-secondary education changed during their tenure as rural manufacturing managers. This study provided valuable insight into the personal and technical skills employers seek when hiring new employees.

Eight manufacturing business professionals who led businesses in two rural northwestern Pennsylvania counties participated in this study. Following Bailly’s (2008) model as described by Cai (2012), this study found that the participants used employee performance and skillset to impact their decisions for future hiring. The findings of this study suggest that skills are more important to the rural manufacturing business professionals than post-secondary degrees. In addition, this study found a lack of communication between rural manufacturing business professionals and post-secondary education leaders. These professionals addressed the need for skills-training programs to ensure employees were trained to meet the local workforce needs. Also, this study found a need for short-term employee development trainings to support operations, skills development, and training on new machines at the local businesses. Finally, post-secondary institutions did not include local manufacturing business managers on institutional advisory boards; therefore, the manufacturing leadership skills and knowledge of the manufacturing industry were not incorporated into post-secondary programs.

Stemming from these findings, this study offers two important implications. First, there needs to be communication between rural manufacturing business professionals and post-secondary educators. This will allow for dialogue about workforce needs. Secondly, post-secondary education should consider ways to provide personalized trainings to local businesses to meet its training needs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Fiely, Stephaniestthomas@pitt.edustthomas
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDeAngelo, Lindadeangelo@pitt.edudeangelo
Committee MemberLongo, Jerrylongoj@pitt.edulongoj
Committee MemberUrchick,
Date: 17 December 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 November 2020
Approval Date: 17 December 2020
Submission Date: 4 December 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 120
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: rural manufacturing, post-secondary needs for rural manufacturing
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2020 19:21
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2020 19:21


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