The Skills Gap

May 13, 2013

President Obama said in his second inaugural address that he believes America’s growth rests “upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class” - he wants everyone to find independence and pride in his or her work. But is there a job for everyone? Is our working population ready? 

"Middle skills" jobs - which require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree - could be key to our economic growth.  These are jobs like nurses, home health aides, mechanics, civil engineers, and utility workers - there’s a mix of technical and interpersonal skill involved. Does Connecticut have the workforce to fill the jobs? Or do we have a “skills gap” between workers trained for jobs, and employers looking to fill them? 

Fifty-two percent of American employers surveyed by staffing company ManpowerGroup say they’re finding “talent shortages.” But the problem may come down to being able to pay those workers a living wage - and offer a little bit of training. The Connecticut Department of Labor predicts that by 2018, two thirds of jobs in the state will be middle or low skill. Whose problem is it if the workers who could fill those jobs aren’t quite ready for them - and what are we doing in Connecticut to try to close the skills gap?

This conversation is part of a series we’re doing on workforce training, hosted at the Hartford Public Library, and presented by the Connecticut News Project with support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.