Perspectives on skill: a study with a group of state training providers, manufacturing managers, and production workers in Oklahoma

Harrison, Sharon (2020) Perspectives on skill: a study with a group of state training providers, manufacturing managers, and production workers in Oklahoma. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

There is a recognised and recurring projected skill shortage in Oklahoma’s manufacturing industries. This research investigated how skill is perceived by a sample of people from three key groups in the manufacturing industry: state training providers, manufacturing managers, and production workers. The study adopted a qualitative approach, utilising focus groups and interviews with members of the key groups to explore their understandings of skill and how they assign responsibility for skill development in the current and future contexts of the manufacturing industry in Oklahoma. The study also explored how human capital theory, the concept of lifelong learning and a skill ecosystem approach provide different frameworks for understanding skill in manufacturing, with particular reference to Oklahoma.

The findings suggest that opportunities for learning and understanding skill and skill development are crucial for individuals and industry, from the perspectives of the participants. Managers can have a key role in nurturing workers to develop a desire for the development of skills. In addition, employability skills, focused on showing initiative to learn and grounded in the application of theoretical knowledge in manufacturing contexts, are imperative for students who want to enter manufacturing. The findings indicate that the best avenue that was perceived by these participants for developing employability skills is work-based learning that allows for the application of theory to develop skill. In terms of who has ‘responsibility for skill’, the notion of ‘opportunity’ emerged as key for skill development. The participants thought that manufacturers have opportunities to initiate skill development in partnerships with educational institutions and state workforce agencies but that management needed also to communicate how workers can acquire skill development and ‘seize’ those opportunities to learn the skills that are necessary.

Analysis of the participants’ understandings of how Industry 4.0 (including automation and smart technology) will impact manufacturing’s future skills revealed that the managers recognised that they had to think strategically about skill. Despite this, they and some production line workers focused on it being the individual worker’s responsibility for ‘seizing’ opportunities to learn a new skill although this approach had enjoyed limited success. There were, however, participants in each of the study’s three groups who indicated interest in pursuing a dialogue between higher educational institutions and industry, and expressed support for better strategic thinking and funding options.

The findings from the study suggest that for industry in Oklahoma to better understand how to create opportunities for skill development and to better make opportunity for skill development a reality, it needs to form a strategic partnership with career and technology education and higher education. In addition, to increase successful adoption of skill development, managers need to dialogue with educators in order to have input into skill development, both in the design and the delivery process. This changed focus, the study concludes, requires a move away from human capital and individualised lifelong learning approaches to a skills ecosystem approach if industry in Oklahoma is to provide better access to skill development. Additionally, managers in partnership with state training providers need to provide clear skill and career progression for students and the current workforce that will align with the skills needed to adapt to Industry 4.0 and its associated technologies. It was concluded that managers, in partnership with state training providers, need to provide clear skill and career progression for students and the current workforce that will align with the skills needed to adapt to Industry 4.0 and its associated technologies.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: skill ecosystem, workforce, lifelong learning, manufacturing, human capital theory, Oklahoma, automation, production workers, industry 4.0, workplace learning, apprenticeships, work-based learning, strategic partnerships, training, employability skills, career progression, skill, skill development, vocational education, CTE, VET, career and technical education, higher education, skills gap, skill mismatch, career pathways, smart technology, managers, manufacturing managers.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
T Technology > TS Manufactures
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Doyle, Dr. Lesley
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Sharon F Harrison
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81450
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2020 06:16
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2020 06:20
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81450

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