Middle-Skilled Jobs, the Forgotten Heart of the Workforce

March 5, 2018 Marissa Gbenro

Middle-skilled jobs are defined by Harvard Business School as occupations that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. These jobs account for the largest portion of America’s labor market. It’s no surprise the demand for talent such as pipe-fitters, electricians, plumbers, and carpenters continues to remain strong. Unfortunately, employers consistently struggle to find individuals to fill these positions. According to Harvard Business School,“69% of HR executives say their inability to attract and retain middle-skills talent frequently affects their firm’s performance.”

Interestingly enough, many of the technician jobs that go unfilled everyday are well paying positions that call for the completion of courses which typically last less than a year, or have paid apprenticeships. For people in these careers, it means spending less on education expenses and beginning a well-paying profession, sooner. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is $24.74. Some may find the shortage of middle-skilled craftspeople curious considering the income is on par with the median household income, these careers require less than a four-year degree, and the jobs are in high demand.

There are a variety of reasons which have contributed to the shortage of labor in the U.S., likely the biggest factor is aging baby boomers retiring out of the workforce in large numbers. Pew Research Center estimates every day for the next 17 years, 10,000 baby boomers will reach retirement age. There isn’t enough of the population entering the workforce to replace the number of baby boomers that have left, and continue to leave each day.

Recently, Josh Hammar discussed the labor shortage and how it has affected manufacturing firms and their strategy for recruiting and retaining skilled craftspeople. Without skilled craftspeople to fill jobs companies are unable to complete projects on time, and positions are staying vacant longer. This has caused businesses to begin hiring candidates without ideal skills and hope to train them on the job.

At PeopleReady Skilled Trades, we make it our mission to recruit the best-skilled craftspeople for our customers. Our goal is to help ease the strain caused by the labor shortage.

In-Demand Middle-Skilled Jobs:

  1. Skilled Trades
    • Carpenters
    • Welders
    • Plumbers
    • Electricians
    • Ironworkers
    • Boilermakers
    • Masons
    • Pipefitters
  2. CDL Drivers
  3. Machine Operators
  4. Material Handlers
  5. Aviation Mechanics
  6. Diesel Mechanics


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