Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Shana Pribesh

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams


In this descriptive research study, I identified industry-recognized workforce credentials that are or will be in high demand by employers operating in Virginia. I surveyed a targeted group of Virginia workforce development stakeholders including 17 Virginia Community College System workforce development leaders who represent each local community college, 47 Virginia local and regional economic development directors, and 11 Virginia Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act directors. Due to the economic disparity between rural and urban areas, I also examined the contrast between high-demand credentials needed by employers in rural and urban areas.

The findings revealed that the top two industry-recognized credentials were health care and manufacturing, equally in high demand currently and predicted to remain so in the future. This finding represents a significant contrast with earlier research, which indicated that manufacturing lagged behind health care. In health care, respondents identified the specific credentials such as certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and registered nurse. For the manufacturing field, credentials such as machinists, welders, and maintenance technicians were identified. The urban respondents differed from rural and suburban participants in believing that health care was the most important, although this difference was not statistically significant. Funding and facilities were noted as barriers to delivering high-demand workforce credentials.