Workforce Adaptation: Employer Assessment of Graduates of the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was twofold: to determine if the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University is producing graduates whom employers consider highly adaptable to the workplace and who quickly become productive in their organizations, and if this is true, to understand what characteristics employers perceive these graduates having that makes them successful. This was a mixed methods study. The quantitative portion of the study used a 36 question survey instrument to gather responses from employers who hire recent graduates from the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University concerning the characteristics that made these graduates successful. The qualitative portion of the study utilized two focus groups in which employers of graduates of the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University discussed why they felt that these graduates adapted quickly and performed well in the workplace. An education model was developed from the findings. Employers responding to the survey attributed the success of these graduates to their technical skills, in conjunction with their character and interpersonal skills. Employers also cited job knowledge, an understanding of cultural adaptation, and realistic expectations of the kind of work they would be doing upon entering the workplace as influencing their ability to adapt quickly and to become highly productive employees. The findings from comments made by employers in the focus groups, in addition to being consistent with the findings of the survey, identified three key areas beyond the interdisciplinary curriculum that influence the ability of graduates from the Industrial Distribution program to adapt quickly and to become highly productive employees upon entering the workplace. The first area was the characteristics of the student attracted to the program. Beyond the intelligence required by the rigorous academic requirements for admittance to Texas A&M University, employers identified integrity, a strong work ethic, and a competitive desire to do well. The second area is the interaction that the faculty has with industry. Many of the members of the faculty have worked for companies in industry; others are connected to industry through research and class projects and the delivery of professional development programs to individuals who work in industries that hire graduates from the Industrial Distribution Program. The third area focused on how the companies that hire the graduates of the Industrial Distribution Program influence and support the program. By providing funding and equipment for labs, financial support for endowments, research and scholarships, and summer internships for students these companies not only hire graduates of the program, they help to educate the students. The study found that collectively these factors work in conjunction to provide the experiential learning opportunities that expose students to applications for what they are learning and foster realistic expectations concerning what it will take to adapt and perform well once they enter the workplace.
Clark, Norman L (2015). Workforce Adaptation: Employer Assessment of Graduates of the Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from