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ERIC Number: ED516306
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 361
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-3293-1
Attitudes of College Graduates, Faculty, and Human Resource Managers Regarding the Importance of Skills Acquired in College and Needed for Job Performance and Career Advancement Potential in the Retail Sector
Heimler, Ronald
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Dowling College
The purpose of this study was to empirically examine college graduate, faculty, and human resource manager descriptions of needed, received, and further training in eight employability dimensions of literacy and numeracy, critical thinking, management, leadership, interpersonal, information technology, systems thinking skills, and work ethic disposition. The study also examined how these skills relate to career advancement potential in the retail sector. The triangular design of this study provided an innovative approach to the research on this subject by examining the attitudes of three groups that were involved in the problem as compared with prior studies that only examined the attitudes of employers regarding the skills needed by graduates to succeed in the modern economy. Three surveys were developed using a 5-point Likert scale. The survey instruments were modified from existing research based on the works of Lee, Trauth, and Farwell (1995), Porterfield (1999), Richens (1999), Loscertales (2007), and Kaplan (2008). Using, a total of 532 surveys were distributed to 343 graduates, 92 faculty, and 97 human resource managers. Of the surveys collected, 98 (18.4%) were usable. The sample consisted of 41 graduates (41.8%), 29 faculty (29.6%), and 28 (28.6%) human resource managers. The setting for the study was a 4 year university located in southern California. Participants included recent graduates, the faculty who design and teach the courses, and the human resource managers who recruit from the school. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and correlation analysis were used to determine the attitudes of the participants on eight dimensions of basic literacy and numeracy, critical thinking, management, leadership, interpersonal, information technology, systems thinking skills, and work ethic. Regression analysis and structural equation modeling were used to determine how the eight dimensions predict career advancement potential. The findings of this study revealed that the participants agreed that basic employability skills are important for job performance. Graduates agreed the skills are received in college, faculty agreed the skills are emphasized in the curriculum, and human resource managers agreed that they receive the skills from recent graduates. The participants had different attitudes regarding the need for additional training in basic employability skills. Graduates did not feel they required additional training, while faculty and human resource managers agreed more than they disagreed that graduates require additional training in basic employability skills. These results suggest that graduates may have a different perspective on their level of competency compared to what is needed at work. Additionally, faculty felt that the need for additional training negatively affected career advancement potential while human resource managers found that additional training has little effect on career advancement potential. The literature revealed that the most important basic employability skill was literacy and numeracy, and particularly, communication skills. However, the findings of this study revealed that all three groups considered leadership skills to be most important. This result is consistent with the outcome of the structural equation modeling that revealed leadership skills needed for job performance as the strongest predictor of career advancement potential. It is incumbent upon students and faculty to do well in their respective positions in college. Students need to develop the skills needed to enter the workforce and to advance their careers. Faculty needs to design their courses to include the skills that students need and employers expect. This study demonstrates that if students do not take their college experience seriously, in terms of preparation for work, then it is quite probable that they will not succeed in their careers without some form of remediation. Weaknesses,in terms of preparation for work, will result in unprepared graduates. In a highly competitive global economy, there is little chance that unprepared graduates will be successful in obtaining employment and then in advancing their careers. Furthermore, it is not just the student's responsibility to graduate and be prepared to work. There is an expectation by students and industry that the coursework will instill in students the specialist and basic employability skills needed to avoid the need for additional training that has been shown to impede career advancement potential. For faculty to be able to develop the courses students need to perform their jobs and advance their careers, industry needs to communicate and collaborate with the academic community, in terms of the skills they currently need, the skills projected to be needed, and the competency level expected from recent graduates. This study demonstrates the need for postsecondary institutions to revisit their relationship with the industries that rely on their graduates to meet their human capital needs and to continually review their courses and curricula, in terms of content and rigor, to ensure they are providing students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California