Date of Award

Summer 7-24-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Margaret Boice, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Bill Boozang, Ed.D.


This dissertation in transformational leadership is original, independent research contributing new knowledge regarding high school internships as a workforce development strategy. Youth must continuously develop their knowledge and skills as the complexities in the workplaces continue to evolve. “Youth employment matters” (2014) found a persistent skills gap in academic achievement between children in the United States and their counterparts in other countries. The solution begins by engaging the younger generation, ideally prior to high school graduation. The purpose of this mixed methods program evaluation was to identify the skills employers seek in current and future employees in three NAM Future Ready pilot internship sites, if these skills could be taught through a work-based learning experience such as an internship, if participants identified skills developed through the internship program, and if the skills developed align with the skills employers need closing a skills gap in the United States. The study supported existing literature on the importance of work-based learning, identified specific experiential learning elements that affect student skill development and self-efficacy, and pioneered new research and recommendations for high school internships as a workforce development strategy. The research findings provide knowledge that applies and contributes to the understanding and improvement of essential skills development in educational practices, policies, and theory. A collaborative approach to experiential learning leads to the development of essential skills needed in the workforce and will result in the United States being highly competitive in a global marketplace.

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