It’s widely known that college graduates earn far more money over the professional careers than their peers who only have a high school diploma.

But less attention is paid to the workers in the middle – those who have some education or training beyond high school but have not earned a four-year college degree.

While the “middle skill jobs” that these workers fill may be overlooked, they are a growing part of the New York economy, according to a new report from the New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals, a nonprofit group representing the workforce development community.

“Per the National Skills Coalition, middle skill jobs represent a significant share of the New York labor market as more than 45% of jobs are projected to be middle skill between 2014-2024,” the report’s authors write. “While middle skill jobs account for half of the labor market, only 38% of the state’s workforce is trained at the middle skill level. This mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills possessed by the available workforce is called the ‘skills gap.’”

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These kinds of jobs, such as personal care aides and registered nurses in the growing health care sector, are “high paying with good job security,” the report concludes. Tens of thousands of new middle skill jobs will be created across the state by 2022, including a projected 57,500 in New York City, over 27,000 on Long Island and nearly 20,000 in the Hudson Valley.

The lack of skills is a broader issue across the workforce, as many jobs available to New Yorkers remain vacant due to a lack of training or understanding of the duties, according to the report, titled “State of the Workforce: A Labor Market Snapshot of New York, 2017.”

Some employers are looking for professionals with technical training, while others are seeking workers with interpersonal and communications skills. At the same time, all regions except for New York City and Long Island are experiencing reductions in their labor force. Nearly quarter of the state’s workforce is over 55 years old and more than 25 percent of their workforce is near retirement age.  

With the older generation nearing retirement, NYATEP suggests that investing in the state’s workforce must be a priority to support the state’s economic development for the next decade. It will help to close the gap for younger population, or workers ages 16-24, who have an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, or double the unemployment rate of the state as a whole.

Overall, in understanding the skills gap, one must be aware of the path to the labor force in terms of education. NYATEP’s report suggests that it all traces back to one’s education background. The reports says that “education and skill attainment directly correlates with wages,” while “those with a high school diploma or less struggle more in the labor market and earn less wages over their lifetime.” Thus, if New York can increase the number of skilled New Yorkers, the overall income of New Yorkers will increase.

Graduating high school is necessary in today’s economy and “is an indicator of success,” the report suggests. More than half of New Yorkers have some college or a college degree while 41 percent has obtained only a high school diploma or less.

For those who have only some college or other training after high school, there are plenty of jobs to fill – at least for those with the right skills.

Read the full report below: 

NYATEP State of the Workforce October 2017 by City & State NY on Scribd