Washington, D.C. — National Skills Coalition today released new national and 50-state labor market fact sheets, which show that jobs that require education and training between a high school diploma and a four-year college degree make up the largest portion of the labor market in the U.S. and in all fifty states.
These are often referred to as “middle-skill” jobs. But they are, in fact, highly-skilled jobs in growing industries like healthcare, medical technology, IT and software, and advanced manufacturing – as well as tradespeople like plumbers and electricians. However, millions of workers don’t have access to the necessary education and training to fill them.
According to NSC’s analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics by State, May 2018, 52 percent of jobs require education and training that fall between a high school diploma and a four-year college degree. But only 43 percent of workers have access to the skills training needed to fill those jobs.
“The lack of access to skills training hurts workers and businesses,” said Molly Bashay, State Policy Analyst at National Skills Coalition, who conducted the national and 50-state analysis. “For millions of working families, skills training — which includes on-the-job training, apprenticeships, or two-year degrees — provides a pathway to the middle-class. And for employers, skills training is a valuable investment in their workforce, business productivity, and long-term success.”
“As technology, automation, and AI continue to impact the workplace,” Bashay added, “it is even more important now than ever for state and federal policymakers to invest in workers and partner with local businesses, educators, and community organizations to expand equitable and affordable access to skills training.”
America’s skill challenge is also deepened by the ongoing effects of policies that have caused racial disparities in educational attainment, employment, and income. Public policy decisions have played a key role in forming these inequities, and therefore, must be an integral part of the solution.
National Skills Coalition’s 2020 legislative agenda and Roadmap to Racial Equity report outlines key recommendations that state and federal policymakers can adopt to provide equitable access to skills training, credentials, and in-demand careers—particularly for communities who face structural or systemic barriers to participation, like low-income populations, people of color, and immigrants.