Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor

Schools Shouldn’t Forget ‘Middle Skill’ Jobs

February 25, 2013 1 min read
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To the Editor:

Regarding the article “Internships Help Students Prepare for the Workplace” (Jan. 30, 2013): It makes sense to offer kids real work experiences in high school. The reality is that not all high school students are bound for a four-year college.

For example, research shows that, by 2018, 60 percent of jobs in my state of California will require some sort of postsecondary education. California’s “skills gap” is very real; recruiters and business executives need to be aware of it and prepare for it.

At the height of the recession, 2 million Californians were out of work, yet only 38 percent had appropriate training for 47 percent of jobs in middle-skill occupations.

Registered nurses, respiratory therapists, electrical- and electronic-engineering technicians, dental hygienists, accounting clerks, and legal secretaries are just a few examples of “middle skill” careers. These are meaningful positions, and most pay a good living wage.

Indeed, we have a responsibility to prepare kids today for both college and career.

One approach that is currently enjoying much success in California is “linked learning.” These career-themed pathways, or academies, link coursework and provide technical training and work-based learning to encourage connections between the high school experience, college, and career.

Research shows that participating students are more likely to graduate from high school, earn higher grade point averages, and attend school more frequently than their counterparts. It is not surprising that these students go on to earn more money in the long run.

The future of our economy depends on the caliber of our workforce. The more that we can do now to prepare students for the workplace tomorrow, the better off we will all fare in the long run.

Sean Wright

Executive Director

East County Business Education Alliance

Antioch, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as Schools Shouldn’t Forget ‘Middle Skill’ Jobs

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