This was originally published on xconomy.com.
While it may seem like those without a college degree have few good options in an increasingly tech- and services-oriented economy, a new report finds more than 30 million “good jobs” in the U.S. that pay at least $35,000 per year and can be had without a college diploma—and the right set of skills.
But many people don’t have the skills required to get those good jobs. It’s a mismatch workforce development experts like 127-year-old training firm Penn Foster are trying to address with new initiatives in online and tech-enabled in-person education programs.
While it’s true that the Midwest and other industrial regions have experienced deep losses in manufacturing jobs over the past two decades, the idea that one must have a college degree to compete for good-paying jobs simply isn’t true, says Ron Stefanski, Penn Foster’s new managing director for corporate education. Because of its ever-rising cost, college is out of reach for many people, he adds, and even if a person gets a college degree, it doesn’t mean they’ll be qualified to pursue available jobs.
He points to the recent Little Caesar’s Arena construction project in downtown Detroit as an example of the problem. Because the project was funded in part by public money, site developers were required to hire a certain percentage of local residents to fill the project’s good-paying construction jobs. When they couldn’t find enough local workers with the right skills for the jobs, the developers were fined $500,000. To call that a lost opportunity is an understatement, Stefanski says.
“If you look at the massive amount of revitalization going on in Detroit, you say wow, but if you dig down deeper, you have great jobs you can’t fill because people don’t have skills beyond basic literacy,” he explains. “It’s a big wake-up call.”
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