Across the country, employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill critical middle-skill jobs. These positions, which require some postsecondary education but not a bachelor’s degree, constitute the majority of the U.S. labor market, but new analysis from the National Skills Coalition (NSC) indicates that there aren’t nearly enough qualified American workers to fill middle-skill openings, hampering states’ economies from growing and employers from hiring.
Earlier this week, NSC released a set of 50-state fact sheets that examines these forgotten middle-skill jobs. Analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American Community Survey, NSC found that middle-skill jobs account for 54 percent of the U.S. labor market but only 44 percent of workers fit into the middle-skill cohort. Conversely, the analysis showed a large surplus of low-skilled workers competing for low-skilled jobs and a smaller, but similar, surplus for high-skill workers and jobs.
Career Technical Education helps to bridge these gaps in key industries. Students with a CTE-related associate’s degree or credential can earn up to $19,000 more per year than those with a comparable humanities degree.
NGA Awards Funding to 14 States
The National Governors Association recently awarded grant funding to 14 states in an effort to help align education and training systems to the needs of the state economies.
As a postsecondary degree or certificate rapidly becomes the new minimum for citizens to gain access to the middle class and beyond, states are looking to maximize their role in promoting collaboration among state agencies, technical training and education institutions to ensure business and industry have the skilled workforce they need to succeed and grow.
With the grant money, states are intended to make progress in the following areas:
- Articulate and implement a strong vision connecting the education and training systems with the needs of the economy;
- Integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress and measure success;
- Build industry and education partnerships; and
- Modify the use of resources and incentives to support attainment of the integrated vision.
Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate