Department of Educational Administration


First Advisor

Dr. Marilyn Grady

Date of this Version


Document Type



Kaiser, S. K. (2019). Employer reports of skills gaps in the workforce. PhD dissertation. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies (Educational Leadership and Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn L. Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2019

Copyright 2019 Samantha K. Kaiser


Skills gaps in the workforce are a common conversation in the current value proposition of higher education. Colleges are expected to help students prepare for a world-class workforce while maintaining the integrity of the academic mission. Employers have similar but different opinions on the preparation of college graduates. This exploratory study took an in-depth look at the perceptions of sixteen employers in a region of the Midwest on questions about the perception of hiring managers about the skills gap in the workforce. Questions focused on work readiness, common challenges, and opportunities that exist to combat these hiring challenges. The themes that emerged from the study provide a foundation for future research with employers and conversations on skills gap in addition to providing guidance to colleges.

Five themes emerged from the study: corporate strategy, role of the university, experience, applicant skills, and career management. Recommendations include developing formal relationships between the employer and the university, supporting lifelong learning for new hires, hiring based on the potential for learning and offering more internships. The participants presented ideas and suggestions for best practices and noted how to best connect students to opportunities.

Advisor: Marilyn Grady