Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Linda Samek, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Dane Joseph, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gary Sehorn, Ed.D.


This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach to elevate and explore the voices of Oregon community college graduates of online career and technical education (CTE) programs to better understand how they perceive they were prepared with employability skills. The participants graduated from their program in Spring 2020, after their final term of classes were shifted completely online due to COVID-19. A three-interview protocol was conducted to explore how participants define employability skills, and the extent to which they felt their online learning experience prepared them with strong teamwork, communication, and results-orientation skills, requisite for success in their fields. Five major findings were uncovered in this study: (a) participants broadly perceive dependability, adaptability, and work ethic as the most desirable employability skills; (b) participants define strong teamwork skills as the ability to delegate and communicate tasks based on a realistic assessment of individuals’ abilities within the team; (c) participants believe that strong communication skills are relational, and marked by honesty and transparency, self and situational awareness, and non-verbal skills such as listening and body language; (d) participants understand strong results-orientation as the ability to effectively plan to clear outcomes and implement; and (e) employability skills can be taught and learned in an online modality, provided the appropriate technology, preparedness of the instructor, and alignment of assignments or activities. This study sought to bring student voice to the literature on online CTE learning, although it represents a particular experience in time with COVID-19. Implications for this study suggest a need for CTE programs and employers to better articulate desirable employability skills to students, for faculty to build belonging and communication into instructional plan, and for community colleges to invest in appropriate technology and professional development for growth and development of online CTE learning.