While facing the transition into the age of automation, organizations are exploring how to best support employees with retraining. But what about middle-skills workers who are currently unemployed or have already been displaced? Jeffrey Selingo continues The Atlantic’s “What Makes a Worker?” series with a look into the retraining dilemma for middle-skills workers, a demographic where many do not hold a college degree and have already been affected by automation. In general, the state of current retraining programs often deters workers from participating, with many resisting the need to relocate, go back to school, or enter a specific occupation based on gender stereotypes. For unemployed workers, “it’s often easier to collect unemployment or other cash benefits that come along with training” instead of learning new skills or earning a degree. Between now and 2024, 16 million middle-skill jobs will be open, but many of them require education beyond a high-school diploma, and “the pathway to retraining these days almost always runs through a college campus.” Community colleges have become key in helping facilitate better retraining programs that target needs of middle-skills workers and work with local organizations to develop programs for in-demand skills. The more higher education institutions and organizations partner to align retraining with hiring needs, the better, especially as many workers are more willing to enroll in training when there is a better chance of a job at the other end.
Caught in the Middle
Jan 25, 2018