CU Denver Business Professor and Scholar Wayne Cascio joined us from the JP Morgan Morgan Center for Commodities.
He, and other researchers, point out that many employers still struggle to fill certain types of vacancies, especially for so-called middle-skills jobs-in computer technology, nursing, high-skill manufacturing, and other fields-that require postsecondary technical education and training and, in some cases, college math courses or degrees.
Currently in the U.S. about 69 million people work in middle-skills jobs, representing roughly 48% of the labor force.
The skills gap is expected to grow substantially as more baby boomers retire. The problem is most acute in the utilities and aerospace sectors-50% to 60% of whose workforces are eligible to retire by 2020 or likely to leave for other reasons-but it afflicts other industries as well.
Labor market experts estimate that as many as 25 million, or 47%, of all new job openings from now through 2020 will fall into the middle-skills range.
They say figuring out how to train people to fill those well-paid jobs could help remedy the wage stagnation affecting much of the country and close the growing gap between high- and low-income households.
They say the big obstacle is execution. For the past three decades, U.S. businesses and government have focused on overhauling K-12 science, math, and reading education and on addressing persistently high dropout rates in inner cities
They say progress has been too slow to remedy the looming skills shortages.
Most think companies can and should take the lead in training workers to fill the middle-skills gap. Realistically, they say that can happen on a large enough scale only if business leaders cooperate with one another, unions, and educational institutions, both regionally and nationally. The key words are cooperate and nationally.
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