'Middle-Skill' Workers In Hot Demand

job interview "Middle-skill" workers -- those with more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree -- are currently in hot demand. The state of New York alone has projected that it will have nearly a million job openings for these workers by 2018. That's according to a new study that also says the state will have to invest in some serious training and education to make sure those workers are ready.

The report, released by the National Skills Coalition in partnership with the New York City Department of Small Business Services and the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals, also projects that middle-skill jobs (including new jobs and replacement) would account for nearly 40 percent of all openings between 2008 and 2018.

"The advanced manufacturing sector is growing, and demand will remain high for ready and qualified employees," says Mike Mandina, president of Optimax Systems, Inc. and chairman of the Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers' Enterprise (FAME). "As U.S. firms adopt lean principles in order to compete in the global market space, we require a work force with a significantly higher skill set than for manufacturing jobs of the past."

Surprisingly enough, prior to the national recession, New York was already experiencing shortages of middle-skill workers in crucial industries. About 46 percent of all current jobs are classified as middle-skill, but only 39 percent of New York workers have the credentials to fill them.

In particular, New York's health care and transportation sectors are expected to provide multiple middle-skill job opportunities."Occupations within the transportation sector, including air, truck and passenger transit jobs, are expected to experience large numbers of job openings due to a high percentage of workers close to retirement. Additionally, as the economy recovers, there is potential for a bigger gap between the supply and demand of many types of health care professionals with middle-skills training," according to the report.

Some of the middle-skill jobs expected to grow by 2018 include dental hygienists, with median annual earnings of $65,160; electricians, with median annual earnings of $61,430; and aircraft mechanics with median annual earnings of $56,900.

"As the economy recovers and grows in new directions, regional employers will need many workers with 'middle skills' and industry certifications," said Dr. Anne M. Kress, president of Monroe Community College. "In fact, community college students are finding jobs in industries like health care, optics and other technologies because they have these 'middle skills.' Community colleges play a central role in developing these skills."

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