How are skills defined?
Skill is most commonly measured through education. The term “low skill” tends to apply to those with less than a high school education, “middle skill” to those who have more than a high school education and less than a college degree, and “high skill” for those with a college degree and more. Skill, however, is not only reflected by education–there are physical skills, soft skills, and emotional skills which contribute to meaningful employment.
The National Skills Coalition highlights the particular need for middle skills in their factsheet Illinois’ Forgotten Middle, one of their many state snapshots. Middle-skill jobs are those that require more than a High School education, but less than a four-year college degree.
Middle-skill jobs make up 53% of the Illinois labor market, but only 42% of the state’s workers are trained for middle-skill jobs.
The interactive, multi-media article Where the jobs are: The new blue collar by USA Today describes where some of those middle-skill jobs are, and the skills and training needed to fill them. Another great resource to learn about the availability of middle skill jobs across the nation is goodjobsdata.org.