To read the headlines, you would think that there are only two types of jobs in America—blue collar working class and college-educated elite. While the irony of Donald Trump’s obsession with the former has escaped few people, the truth is that everyone is ignoring the most important jobs of all—those that fall under the title middle skills. Middle-skill jobs are those that require more education than a high school diploma but don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. They are the backbone of America’s economy and include professions like machinists, practical nurses, technical sales people, computer technicians, carpenters and so on. They are going unfilled, even as millions of Americans are searching for work, which could create long-term problems for America.
To find a solution, politicians, educators, governments and business leaders would be well advised to revisit this 2014 report from the Harvard Business School. Its findings and recommendations are every bit as timely now as they were when the report was first published. If we don’t shift our attitude about the importance of middle skill jobs and respect them for the essential contribution they provide, skill shortages will continue to grow to our detriment.
Andrew Faas is the author of
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