Much has been made in recent years about the skills gap, but many questions still remain in the public and education about exactly what the skills gap is. Stated simply, it’s the mismatch between the needs of employers for skilled talent and the skills possessed by the available workforce.
For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs in the United States but only 400,000 computer scientists trained to fill those jobs. Likewise, welding trade organizations project there is an immediate need for 400,000 additional welders in the workforce. Across the country, millions of job postings go unfilled even as millions of people remain unemployed or underemployed.
The vast majority of these jobs require education beyond high school but not necessarily a four-year degree, and fall into the category of “middle-skill” jobs. Middle skill professions currently make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States, and many workers employed in middle skills fields are earning more than their counterparts who possess a four-year degree.
A panel of area experts said the region has grown as the Tech Valley because of the ability to recruit nationally and internationally to fill middle skills jobs, but it’s vital to the future of the region to be able to fill those jobs and future jobs locally. Some area manufacturers are even willing to pay for their employees to pursue a higher education degree while they work for them.
To help with this need, the Mohonasen Central School District, Capital Region BOCES and Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) have partnered on a brand-new Center for Advanced Technology @ Mohonasen. The project was approved by Mohonasen voters in 2013, as part of a larger capital project, and when it opens in 2016 it will house programs in manufacturing, health sciences, welding, communications, nanotechnology and more. Through the partnership, it will be open to high school, college and workforce development students from across the region.
Watch the video below – produced by Capital Region BOCES – to learn more about the Middle Skills Gap.