Date of Award

Fall 12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. H. Quincy Brown

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Heather M. Annulis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. John J. Kmiec, Jr.

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Dale L. Lunsford

Committee Member 4 School



A workforce shortage exists within occupations requiring educational training beyond high school but less than a 4-year degree, known as middle-skill occupations. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offered at community colleges throughout the United States equip graduates at the middle-skill level. Although affordable CTE programs are readily available, little is currently known about what makes students consider and ultimately enroll in postsecondary CTE programs. This qualitative phenomenological study investigated the decision to enroll in a postsecondary CTE program as experienced by current students at a North Alabama community college to identify enablers and barriers faced during the decision to enroll process. The researcher utilized Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) methodology to interpret data collected from semi-structured one-on-one interviews with current students and a focus group of postsecondary CTE program administrators. Purposeful sampling was employed to select seven participants for one-on-one interviews and two focus group participants. The researcher developed an instrument with six open-ended one-on-one interview questions and seven open-ended focus group interview questions. Protocols for both one-on-one interviews and the focus group were also developed. The findings and recommendations from this study inform the recruiting efforts of institutions offering postsecondary CTE programs to increase community awareness and interest in such programs, increase enrollment, and add significant qualified talent to the middle-skill talent pipeline.