Job Training Shifts to ‘Middle Skills’ to Put Millennials Back to Work

May 06, 2014

In New Jersey, demand and projections for middle-skill jobs reflect national trends. Calling middle-skill workers “the backbone of New Jersey’s economy,” the National Skills Coalition (NSC) found that while these positions account for 48 percent of the state’s supply, only 35 percent of the state’s workers have adequate training for them.

“Middle-skill jobs are key to our nation's health, its infrastructure, and its economic growth. Many of these jobs cannot be outsourced: from the care of our sick and elderly, to the repair of our computerized cars, to the running and maintenance of our factories' advanced machinery, to the construction of our nation's bridges and buildings,” wrote the NSC in a state-by-state report.

But while academics speak frequently about attracting students into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields as a path to a well-paid, highly skilled career with longevity. Few people discuss the reality that half of all STEM jobs don’t require a college degree. According to the NSC, STEM careers in nursing and carpentry pay more than $11,000 annually over the state average for all occupations, though it should be noted that an increasing number of hospitals nationwide require their nurses to obtain a four-year degree.