INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYERS PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW EMPLOYEES
IN MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN.
John M. Glynn
A Research Paper
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Masters of Science Degree With Major in
Approved: 2 Semester Credits
Dr. Steve Schlough, Investigation Advisor
The Graduate College University Of Wisconsin-Stout
The Graduate School University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751
Glynn John M. (Writer)(Last Name) (First) (Initial)
INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYERS PERCEPTIONS ABOUT TECHNOLOGICAL
LITERACY AS AN EMPLOYABILITY SKILL FOR NEW EMPLOYEES
IN MARATHON COUNTY WISCONSIN.
Industrial/Technology Education Dr. Steve Schlough December 2002 52 (Graduate Major) (Research Advisor) (Month/Year) (No. of Pages) American Psychological Association A.P.A. Publication Manual (Style Manual) The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent selected industrial
employers of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent
technological literacy is valued in entry-level employees. With the focus of technology
education being directed toward producing graduates who are technologically literate
this study was conducted to determine if industrial employers found these same traits as
valuable to them in regard to hiring new employees, the success of new employees, and
the ability of these employees to advance within the company.
With the goal of measuring the perceived value of technological literacy for entry-
level employees in mind a thirty-four question survey was conducted with Marathon
Countys thirty largest industrial employers. The survey asked the respondents to rate
selected standards and benchmarks of the Wisconsin State Standards for Technology
Education with a Likert scale type of survey. The survey concluded with some questions
regarding the perceived value of technological literacy for the success and advancement
of new employees.
The survey was well received and a response rate of 46.7% provided a statistically
adequate sample with which to suggest that the results are representative of the sample
group. The respondents, as a group, placed a high value on overall technological literacy
and their responses indicated that employers perceived the greatest value to be for new
employees ability to advance in their career.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend some words of thanks to some very special people without whos help and support I could have never succeeded at this endeavor. First, I would like to thank my children, Blaine and Brittiany, for supporting me with their words of encouragement, their push to help me see what is truly important in life, and their never ending confidence in my abilities. The time, money, and resources dedicated to daddys education Im sure cost you two more then money could account for. Remember that with hard work and determination, you can accomplish your goals and nothing takes the place of a quality education. My hope is that I may be able to set an example by demonstrating that goals that are worthwhile never come easily. I hope you both can come to realize that the self-satisfaction of attaining these goals and the gaining of knowledge is priceless and can never be taken from you. I would also like to thank my mother and father, the example of how they lived their lives and reached for and attained their goals in life, now and always will inspire me. My wife, Kathy Abt-Glynn, for her confidence in me, her words of encouragement, the many days and nights of being patient with a man who seemed never to know when to stop working on something relating to graduate work, when Im sure she would have rather have been spending time together. Also for showing me more about how to live life and keeping focused on what is really important. Dr. Schlough for advising my research. Dr. Sterry, Dr. Welty, Dr. Hendricks, and Dr. McAlister for their dedication and commitment to technology education that is driving a generation in the right direction and for their unyielding commitment to excellence and unwillingness to allow mediocrity. My colleagues at D.C. Everest High School, the most dedicated and skilled group of educators I have ever had the privilege of working with. Finally, I would like to thank all the students and parents that I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. The reason we teachers answer this calling is rewarded over and over with the confidence and trust you give us when you allow us to influence your lives.
Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS.v
Chapter I, Introduction...1
Statement of the problem.4
The purpose of the study..4
Objectives of the study.4
Significance of the study..5
Scope and delimitations of the study...5
Chapter II, Review of Literature....7
The Need for Technological Literacy..7
The Definition of Technological Literacy.....10
The Components of Technological Literacy..11
Conclusion for the Review of Literature14
Chapter III, Methods and Procedures...16
Treatment of Data18
Chapter IV, Analysis of Results.19
Results of the Study
Part One: Technological Literacy Components.21
Nature of Technology.....21
Impact of Technology28
Part Two: Over all Technological Literacy....31
Chapter V, Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations32
Methods and Procedures.32
Recommendations for further study...36
APPENDIX A: SURVEY...40
APPENDIX B: Cover Letter......43
APPENDIX C: Consent Form...44
APPENDIX D: Follow-up Letter...45
Background of the Problem
The competitiveness of industry in the United States is dependent upon a skilled
workforce. Mr. Thomas Beard states: Theres hardly a company in business that hasnt
suffered from a woeful lack of skilled operators and technicians. But if more equipment
builders, schools and users make comparable commitments to developing Americas
most precious resource, its people, we will be well on the way to eradicating the most
worrisome threat to our long term competitiveness(Beard, T.L. 1989, p.36).
As educators and employers consider the changes in technology, what are their
Employers face enormous changes in a highly competitive global
marketplace. The new economy demanded new ways of thinking, new
ways of managing, and new ways of working. As the nature and look of
jobs changed, the level of education and skills required also changed.
Many educators faced the challenge of preparing young people to
participate in the increasingly complex and changing world of work by
calling on employers to articulate and communicate their needs better
(McLaughlin, 1992, p.1).
Recent journal articles and industry reports indicate that, nation wide,
employers are dissatisfied with the readiness of high school graduates to enter the
workforce. Brown contends, education in this country continues to fall behind
what is required to sustain high-technology based industries (Brown, S.F.,1992,
p. 25). Even if the U.S. is able to continue developing new technologies and
makes the capital expenditures necessary to utilize those developments, great
improvements in productivity will be unlikely unless workers have the level of
education and skill needed to handle the advanced technologies (Berger, 1987).
Johnson concludes, It is true that technology is having a definite effect on the
nature and characteristics of the workforce. New occupations are being created
while traditional occupations are being changed or eliminated. The workers that
fill these changing occupations must update their knowledge and skills to remain
employable. A wider variety of skills are now needed by the workforce
(Johnson, S.D., 1991, p. 4). Plant Engineering magazine reports that It is not
uncommon to see 14 out of 15 job applicants refused employment because of a
lack of basic skills (Seveska, R., 1992, p. 136). Employers, policy makers, and
educational leaders are starting to agree that all citizens need to be technologically
literate in order to succeed in todays world (Satchwell & Dugger, 1996, p. 5).
Reports indicate that employment is being lost to overseas companies because
U.S. companies cannot put together adequately capable workforces. The National
Association of Manufacturers has estimated that forty percent of companies have
had trouble upgrading production techniques because of inadequately skilled
workers (Marshal, 1995).
With this being the rhetoric of the nation as a whole, one might easily be
concerned that the businesses in a local area are also affected with similar
problems. With the unemployment rate below 4% employers in Marathon
County are continually on the lookout for workers to use for replacement and
expansion in their businesses (Shaver, 1997, p. A1). In May of 2001 in a
conversation with John Kreager, human resources manager of Marathon Countys
seventh largest employer, Greenheck Fan, I was told of the difficulties that
company has with hiring qualified workers. They typically hire under qualified
workers and train them on the job, because they have such a desperate need. John
also expressed that even the current workforce is sent for training to upgrade their
skills as new technology is implemented.
Marathon County, Wisconsins largest county, is located in north central
Wisconsin and is accessed principally by highways I-35 and 51 going north and
south, and highway 29 going east and west. It has an area of 1,545 square miles,
contains 988,848 acres of real estate. Marathon County has over 3,300 employers,
populations of about 126,393 persons of which over 73,000 are in the workforce
and a county unemployment rate of 3.5 percent (Wisconsin Department of
Workforce Development, 2000) (U.S. Census, 2000).
School districts, the state, and the nation have also recognized the need to
improve the curriculum to meet the challenges of our technological society. The
State of Wisconsin has published standards for education in technology education
that outline the need for technological literacy of graduates. In the Wisconsins
Model for Academic Standards for Technology Education it states that course
offerings must include elements to ensure all students will graduate
technologically literate (Wisconsin DPI Bulletin No. 9006, 1998, p. XV). In the
national spotlight the Technology for All Americans Project has published that
the first priority of technology education is to provide technological literacy to
all students (International Technology Education Association, 1996, p. 35). The
D.C. Everest Area School system, located in Marathon County, has also put
together standards for their technology education program with the goal of
technological literacy for students.
This research is intended to provide an insight to the extent to which selected
industries in Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent
technological literacy is valued in entry-level employees. It is also a good way to
give ownership to the industrial community in the efforts of the education system
to promote technological literacy for graduates.
Statement of the problem
The problem is that it is unknown to what extent selected industrial employers
of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent technological
literacy is valued in entry-level employees.
The purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to determine to what extent selected industrial employers
of Marathon County value technological literacy and to what extent technological literacy
is valued in entry-level employees.
Objectives of the study
This study will focus on the following objectives:
1. Identify to what extent technological literacy components are valued by
selected industrial employers of Marathon County in entry-level employees.
2. Analyze to what extent selected industrial employers of Marathon County
value technological literacy in entry-level employees.
Significance of the study
1. The results of this study will be used to validate the efforts of the local school
districts efforts in aligning of the goals of the technology education
department with the Wisconsin Standards for Technology Education.
2. The results of this study will also be shared with the administrators, staff, and
school board, participating businesses, and the chamber of commerce.
Scope and delimitations of the study
This study will be limited to select employers in Marathon County, Wisconsin and
will not be able to be generalized to any area out side of that location. This study does not
include all standards from the Wisconsin State Standards for Technology Education and
therefore may not determine conclusively that all state standards would be embraced or
rejected by all employers. This study has been limited to only the largest thirty industrial
employers of Marathon County, Wisconsin and therefore may not be generalized to all
employers, businesses or persons.
On the following pages the term technological literacy will be defined and
explained by some the leaders in education and industry. The components that make up
technological literacy will be identified and explained in a way that is intended to justify
their use in the school system and their value for industry. Much will be made of the link
between what is being taught and the needs of graduates to acquire and advance in
careers that have a technical nature.
Review of Literature
The review of literature for this study will focus on the perceived need for and
definition of technological literacy and the components of technological literacy that
comprise its make up.
The Need for Technological Literacy Most of our population is not being educated properly to function in the everyday
world today, this is a time in which technologically literate citizens must make critical
decisions affecting the global community (Kozak, 1992). Educational leaders are in
agreement that the status quo is no longer sufficient today. the core subjects in our
schools will be amended. The core subjects of one hundred years ago are no longer
enough to adequately produce technologically prepared citizens (Satchwell &
Dugger, 1996, p. 11). Because high tech will have an ever-increasing impact on all
aspects of society, it is more important than ever for educational planners...