Virginia’s Forgotten Middle

Middle Skilled Jobs and Low Skilled, Low Literate, Entry Level Workers in the U.S.

• Middle skilled jobs require more than a high school education but less than a bachelor’s degree (e.g., associate degree, postsecondary certificate, apprenticeship, etc.)

• Comprise about half of all U.S. jobs. Historically, these jobs were available to those with a high school diploma (sometimes less), but changes in production and increasingly sophisticated technology now require more education and preparation for this growing group of jobs than ever before.
Additional education and training beyond high school is now the norm for access to middle skills positions.

– The Future of the U.S. Workforce: Middle Skills Jobs and the Growing Importance of Postsecondary Education, Achieve, Inc., September 2012

NSC-Virginia-MiddleSkillFS-2014

The Skills Gap: Living wage work is available in all regions of Virginia, but not enough literate or trained workers are able to fill middle skilled job positions.

More than 175,000 middle skill job openings occurred in Virginia last year. Each job, on average, took 26 days to dill. That nearly month-long gap stripped businesses of more than 36 million hours of productivity; families of more than $1 billion in wages; and Virginia’s General Fund of an estimated $54 million in state income taxes.”

The Interest Gap: Too few people pursue these middle class careers because of outdated societal stigmas or they are unaware of them, how well they pay, the advancement opportunities they offer, or even how to secure the credentials necessary to pursue them.

The Affordability Gap: Financial aid is largely not available to Virginians pursuing short-term workforce training programs, despite evidence that they typically need it the most.

– Workforce Credentials: The Pathway to Virginia’s New Middle Class: Virginia’s Community Colleges, September 1, 2015

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