A community responds to economic change: A case study of the Lehigh Valley

Jacqueline Anne Hendrick, University of Pennsylvania


This study emerges out of two research initiatives. The first, “Work Readiness, School Effectiveness, and Employer Satisfaction” was conducted by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW). The second, “Six-Nation Education for the Twenty-First Century Project-Vocational Training and Educational Growth Project” was initiated under the auspices of the Institute for Research on Higher Education (IRHE). In both studies, focus groups were conducted with three significant stakeholder groups—students, educators, and employers. Economic change, which is brought about by advances in technology and global competition, was viewed as the underlying reality for shifts occurring in the Lehigh Valley. Many studies focus on global competition and how nations respond to changing economies. However, less is understood about: (a) how community stakeholders respond to regional industry and occupational shifts, (b) what jobs, skills, education, and training are valued by whom and why, and (c) what the links are between education and economic development. In order to facilitate greater understanding, this study provides an overview of the issues facing youths, schools, and employers. The questions posed to Lehigh Valley students, education administrators, and hiring managers identify contributing factors for the exodus of youths, the sources of conflicting tension between employers and schools, and the role of education in economic development. The results of this study show that the expectations of some students align well with the region's employers' needs and others do not. Schools are experiencing more pressure to respond to employers' need for workplace skills with new educational initiatives, while complimentary education policies support local workforce development efforts. The short-term goals and long-term vision that are offered is key to meeting the impact of the global economy at a local level.

Subject Area

Higher education|Labor economics|Secondary education|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Hendrick, Jacqueline Anne, "A community responds to economic change: A case study of the Lehigh Valley" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3003636.