According to the report, Colorado’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs, middle-skill jobs requiring education beyond a high school diploma, but not a four-year college degree, account for 47 percent of all current jobs in Colorado. However, only 36 percent of Colorado’s workforce has the educational credentials to fill these positions. This gap, named the “Workforce Gap”, poses a risk of worker shortages in crucial industries, like healthcare and software information technology, that could put the state at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive regional, national and global economy.
According to Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation who is working to increase the number of Americans with postsecondary credentials, almost two million jobs are unfilled because of the lack of qualified employees. The Colorado Department of Education added that, “an estimated 74 percent of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by the year 2020.”
Both middle-skill and low-skill jobs do not have enough qualified workers to fill open positions.
Although Denver has one of the strongest and fastest-growing economies, as well as one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, many industries are still seeing a decline in qualified workers. According to Merisotis, the responsibility not only lies with Colorado schools and universities to educate the incoming workforce, but with Colorado businesses as well, who can upgrade their talent development efforts and tap into the potential from Colorado cities and urban areas. Merisotis said, “I believe we need to see cities not as challenges to be solved, not as educational and social problems to be fixed, but as hubs of talent – places where innovation and creativity thrive.”
Middle-skill jobs are essential to Colorado’s health, infrastructure and economic growth. Many of these jobs are local and hands-on jobs, meaning they are unlikely to be outsourced. In Colorado, a high school education is no longer adequate for most jobs in today’s economy, so fixing the Workforce Gap is an essential aspect to attract, retain and grow businesses in the area.
Read more about Skills2Compete – Colorado’s plan for decreasing the Workforce Gap.