Nearly two-thirds of Americans do not have a four-year college degree, but a new class of “middle-skill” or “new-collar” jobs in the technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing industries are giving many Americans an opportunity to obtain a middle-class lifestyle with shorter, less expensive training programs.
A recent article in The New York Times looked at a new category of skills-based jobs emerging across the country called “middle-skill” or “new collar” jobs. Entry into many of these jobs require a specific skill-set but not necessarily a four-year degree. New skills-based training programs to train employees are being developed through partnerships between nonprofit organizations, schools, state governments and companies, and are providing classes and workplace-based training opportunities that translate into real life skills.
Many of the “middle-skill” jobs are technology based. The tech field has seen success for skills-based training programs because jobs like coding, cybersecurity and software programming require very specific and easily measurable skill sets, and job openings are abundant across the country.
The article noted that both Microsoft and IBM have found great success in hiring employees through skill-based training programs. Microsoft recently announced a grant of more than $25 million for Skillful, a program to foster skills-oriented hiring, training and education. IBM has developed skills programs with many community colleges as well as one-to-two-year programs designed to meet the company’s needs. As a result, nearly one-third of employees hired at IBM in the last two years do not hold four-year degrees.
The article noted that while it is still unclear whether these skill-centered initiatives can train large numbers of people and effectively alter hiring practices across the country, the results in the technology industry have shown promise.
Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC (ACS), presently works with three workforce development boards in nine counties in the Charlotte, North Carolina, region to help them raise awareness of their work and their role to develop partnerships and programs that benefit individuals’ skill development and impact businesses’ success, which bolsters their regional economy.