More frequently since the Great Recession, various concerns about a “skills gap” have been raised by industry leaders and organizations, politicians, and some economists. The most basic definition of a “skills gap” is that the workforce does not possess the skills required by employers. The most prominent concerns have been with STEM education and “middle skills” occupations, those that require more than a high school diploma but less than a 4-year degree. However, the various causes and solutions to these issues are widespread. Much of the alarm has been stimulated by reports published by industry and trade organizations asserting specific skills gaps present in the workforce. However, workforce experts refute these claims and are concerned that the public discussion is being driven by such alarmist reports. Many studies on framing code for the presence of full frames; this study instead identifies the presence of individual frame elements and implements a hierarchical cluster analysis to identify the most salient frames regarding skill problems in U.S. newspapers. Results indicate that the frames present in the public discussion largely align with the alarmist frames, concerning inadequate STEM education and preparation for “middle skills” jobs, present in the workforce reports published by industry and trade groups. Given that the majority of articles were written by journalists, these findings confirm the hypothesis of framing theory that journalists tend to use frames suggested by political actors, interest groups, and elites.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Skilled labor--Supply and demand--Forecasting; Labor supply--Research

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Andrea Hickerson

Advisor/Committee Member

Kelly Norris Martin

Advisor/Committee Member

Benjamin M. Zwickl


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at HD5701.ff.W46 2016


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes