Accessing Information Technology Careers: A Qualitative Study Of Gatekeepers' Perceptions Of Technology Workforce Readiness
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentAdvanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy
ProgramMaster of Science
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The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), calls for schools in America to prepare students to be both college and career ready (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The NCLB goals are tied to our national security, our quality of life, and the strength of our economy (National Academies, 2007). Educators face a multitude of challenges as they work to prepare our students to enter the ever changing, technology-driven 21st century workforce. The purpose of this study was to understand how key gatekeepers perceive information technology workforce readiness and to solicit their recommendations for how K-16 schools can develop attributes in students that indicate they are ready for the information technology workforce. The theoretical framework for the study was based on the Experiential Learning Theory. The data collection involved interviewing five information technology workforce gatekeepers. Data analysis consisted of coding the interview transcripts using qualitative methods. The study found information technology workforce readiness to be a combination of a good technical fit and a good cultural fit. The study's participants recommend that educators make use of project-based group assignments, expose students to the real world, and involve parents in order to prepare students to enter the information technology workforce. These findings could help schools to better support their students' transitions to the workforce, improve the effectiveness of K-16 technology programs, and help workforce gatekeepers to improve their practices.