Two recent articles by Harry Holzer, Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy and Visiting Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, make the case for creating new workforce training models to match skills with employer demands, and improving incentives for employers to invest in those workers.
Holzer writes in “Job Market Polarization and U.S. Worker Skills: A Tale of Two Middles.” that “new” middle skill jobs like IT and health technology usually require some post-high school education or training but less than a bachelor’s degree, while the “traditional” middle such as production and clerical work often does not. The demand for traditional middle skill workers is declining, while demand for new middle skill jobs is increasing – and employers say they cannot find skilled workers they need. Holzer argues that we need reforms in funding for community colleges and stronger incentives and assistance for employers to create and better meet that employer demand.
The companion paper, “Higher Education and Workforce Policy: Creating More Skilled Workers (and Jobs for Them to Fill)” presents more specific solutions for the short supply of middle skill workers. Three main policy strategies are recommended for building the skills of middle-wage workers and strengthening employer demand for them: improve resources and incentives of community colleges to successfully train more students (especially from low-income families) in high-demand fields; improve career and technical education (CTE) in high schools and community colleges and reform the Perkins Act to expand apprenticeships and other models of work-based learning; and create stronger incentives for employers to create more good-paying jobs and participate in programs to meet that demand.
For more information, visit Professor Holzer's Brookings webpage.