Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers

Second Advisor

Frankie S. Laanan


In light of the current economic downturn, thousands of Iowan's are unemployed and this is the ideal time to build the skills of the workforce to compete in the knowledge-based economy so businesses and entrepreneurs can compete in a global economy. A tool for assessing the skills and knowledge of dislocated workers and students as well as identifying skills deficits in order to match individuals' transferrable skills to high-demand jobs is essential in order for dislocated workers and students to increase their human capital. It is essential for individuals to make informed decisions regarding the training they need and for educational institutions to provide appropriate educational programs that are responsive to the needs of the knowledge-based economy. The purposes of this study were to compare the relationships between knowledge levels, transferrable skills, and skill needs of dislocated workers in northeast Iowa to the knowledge and skill needs of area businesses, to outline and develop a model for equipping Iowa's workforce for a knowledge-based economy, and to provide a paradigm for assessment and training.

The research questions guiding this study included: (a) What are the demographic characteristics of northeast Iowa's dislocated workers? (b) What are the current skills, knowledge, and competencies of dislocated workers in northeast Iowa? (c) Are there differences in the skills, knowledge, and competencies between male and female dislocated workers? (d) What are the aspirations of dislocated workers in northeast Iowa? (e) What are the skills gaps of dislocated worker regarding the knowledge-based economy? (f) What education and training programs are needed to adapt the current skills set clusters to a knowledge-based economy in northeast Iowa?

This quantitative study was conducted using the theoretical frameworks of human capital, new growth, knowledge-based economy, and action research theory concepts. Further, this study analyzes the role the community college system is expected to take in workforce preparation and economic development, along with the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) One Stop Centers and the Iowa Workforce Development Research Bureau. The quantitative techniques of descriptive and inferential statistics were used to describe the data set of 477 individuals--284 males and 193 females--laid off from industries in northeast Iowa. The dislocated worker data was matched with additional demographic and occupational data obtained from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

The results indicate a high percentage of females and males intend to continue their education. The findings show a significant need for additional training for dislocated workers to be employed in emerging occupations to increase their knowledge and work activity (skills) in order to be prepared for emerging occupations in biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. The workforce analysis on regional competitive advantage supports the need for emerging occupations.

The study demonstrates the need for further assessment and training for dislocated workers. It also provides a replicable model for other community colleges, One Stop workforce centers, and economic development interests and has the potential to provide an on-line tool for advising, education and recruitment. Finally, the study contributes knowledge and research valuable for One Stop workforce Centers, community colleges and economic development.


Copyright Owner

Wendy Ann Mihm-herold



Date Available


File Format


File Size

188 pages