The Middle Skills Training "Awakening"
Posted by Marie Murphy on March 8, 2018
The need for increased investment in training and development has never been greater. That was the sentiment expressed by Penn Foster CEO Frank Britt in an interview with Ed Tech Times at last month's LearnLaunch conference. With an emphasis on "closing the skills gap," Britt explains that given high-growth occupation industries like hospitality and skilled trades, effective middle skilled workers are in increasingly high demand. However, many middle skilled workers do not have all of the skills they need to be the most effective. This lack of effective middle skilled workers has created this middle skills gap which hurts employers, businesses, and employees themselves.
Historically, many have overlooked this gap and considered middle skilled workers to be "at risk populations," but Britt says that should not be the case. In the interview he explains how these workers are in fact the ones employers and training should be targeting as they are the, "under-served part of the economy that is in desperate need of options, access and affordability." Furthermore, Britt argues, it makes economic sense for employers to invest in training and development for middle skilled workers.
By targeting this middle skilled market of employees, employers could face a wealth of benefits, from higher employee engagement and productivity, to strengthening and building the pipeline of talent. These productivity and engagement benefits haven't traditionally been sought out by employers, however, there is a growing shift in focus as employers are awakening to the importance of front line and middle skills training. And, according to Britt, this "awakening" means that, "the time has finally come to really serve that middle-skilled worker."
The awakening is a shift from the near-exclusive focus of training and development for top, white collar positions, to the front line, middle skilled workforce, because without middle skilled workers, an organization cannot successfully move forward.