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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies issues white paper on potential of Employee Resource Groups for skills development

By Sharla Hooper

Insights by Dr. Andrew Lawlor draws on data from 2023 Career Optimism Index® study

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies announces the release of a white paper by Andrew Lawlor, Ph.D., faculty with the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies and Fellow at the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR), exploring how employee resource groups (ERG) can help meet workers’ needs for support of learning new skills and growing professionally: “Skills Development of American Workers in the Post Pandemic Era using Employee Resource Groups.”

Drawing upon data from the 2023 University of Phoenix Career Institute® Career Optimism Index® study, Lawlor discusses the workforce evolution and related upskilling and reskilling needs, misalignment of organizations and their employees, and identifies how workers express the need for learning new skills as well as programs to grow professionally. Lawlor posits that ERGs offer a new paradigm for tackling the twin issues of engagement and professional development, where individuals can leverage the social connections to promote skill development.

“ERGs can be that mechanism that enlivens workers’ desires to be challenged with learning new skills and taking on new roles within their organization,” states Lawlor. “This in, turn, can strengthen organizations’ potential to overcome industry challenges and take advantage of opportunities for future growth, productivity, and enhancement.”

Lawlor's career has encompassed K-16 education, educational technology services, academic program management, institutional research support, and the role of Chief Information Officer. Currently, he is a consultant for CampusWorks, Inc., providing leadership and technical services to higher education clients, and was vice president for Information Technology Services & CIO at Bucks County Community College. Prior to that, he served in several capacities at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, culminating as the Chief IT Officer. Lawlor earned his bachelor’s at University of Pittsburgh, his master’s degree in education at Gannon University, and a doctorate in Educational Administration from Kent State University.

Lawlor has focused his scholarly activity on student and faculty use of technology, the application of technology for improving institutional processes, and leadership development. He has been a faculty member with the University of Phoenix since 2004.

The full whitepaper is available at the Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here.


About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program is built around the Scholar, Practitioner, Leader Model which puts students in the center of the Doctoral Education Ecosystem® with experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index®  

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans' personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® conducts this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and advance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the third annual study, fielded between December 9, 2022 – January 13, 2023, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed on how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of the workforce in the top twenty DMA markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. The study also explores insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train, and retain them. 

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit