USA Today Shines Spotlight on Middle-Skill Jobs

October 27, 2014

USA Today calls attention to the notable and growing demand for middle-skill jobs in the United States through an interactive, multi-media feature. NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen is quoted on the need for students to receive better information about career planning.

"They need to know what the real employment prospects are going to be, including financial," Van Kleunen says. "What will school cost you? What will the pay be?"

The expansive article also devotes a “chapter” to E.J. Ajax, a precision manufacturing company near Minneapolis co-owned by Business Leaders United employer Erick Ajax.

"The global competition doesn't keep me up at night," says Erick Ajax, co-owner and grandson of the founder. "I know we can go toe-to-toe with any company in the world. But having people that have the right skill set…that wakes me up at 3 o'clock in the morning."

E.J. Ajax, along with several of its competitors, approached Anoka Technical College to collaboratively create the Precision Sheet Metal Academy, a 100-hour, fast-track training program. The coalition of employers was able to procure nearly $1 million in donations to launch the Academy. To date, the program has put almost 300 people to work and boasts a 98% employment rate.

"If we go to one of those schools and say we need a program to train the five new people we hired, they're going to laugh at us 'cause there's no way they can develop a program, buy the equipment, hire instructors, get the floor space for five people," Ajax said. "But if we get 10 companies and we're training 50 to 100 per year, that's a sustainable model."

More akin to a multi-media presentation than a traditional news article, the USA Today feature includes interviews with Vice President Joe Biden and Dirty Jobs star Mike Rowe, video and radio coverage of middle-skill opportunities in cities such as Houston and Atlanta, and an interactive tool for identifying in-demand middle-skill jobs specific to each city.

USA Today examines jobs data in 125 of the nation’s largest metros and estimates 2.5 million new middle-skill jobs will be added to the workforce by 2017, accounting for nearly 40% of all job growth. Read the full article to learn about ways federal and state government, employers, and schools can widen the pipeline to middle-skill jobs and ensure key industries in our country can find sufficiently trained workers to meet this growing demand.

Photo Credit: USA Today