Addressing the skills gap : a qualitative study of industry partners supporting Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools




Muhammad-Rodgers, Usamah K.

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Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) not only prepare students for postsecondary study but also support economic development by preparing students to enter the workforce. The purpose of this qualitative study was to interview P-TECH industry partners to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and perspective regarding how current programs have been implemented, their roles in these partnerships, and workforce outcomes. There were three research questions: (a) What are industry partners’ perceptions of how the P-TECH program prepares students to enter STEM related careers? (b) What are industry partners’ perceptions of how the school district engages business and industry partners in developing career pathways which align with Texas HB5 requirements? (c) What do industry partners perceive as successes and challenges associated with the P-TECH program? The study gave voice to the industry partners who experienced the industry-partnership aspect of the P-TECH program phenomena firsthand. There were six participants who represented six industry partners of the P-TECH program operating in a large school district in Texas interviewed. Coding involved constructing an in-depth description of the experience. Pseudonyms and masking were used for the final presentation of the findings. The seven themes that emerged from the data follow as: (a) value alignment, (b) future employment opportunities and skills mapping, (c) mentoring and workplace learning experiences, (d) champions, (e) effective communication, (f) positive experiences, and (g) opportunities for improvement derived from the participants’ responses. This study’s findings offer a deeper understanding of the industry partner experience and might assist superintendents in identifying best practices for building strategic partnerships that ensure the longevity of successful P-TECH programs that prepare graduates to streamline from education into the workforce.


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