Posted on 10/13/2017 at 09:52 AM by Liz Determan

“Middle-skill jobs remain an important part of Iowa’s expanding economy.  This trend is expected to continue as more of the baby boomer generation retires and employers expect more from their employees in terms of higher education and skills.  Middle-skill jobs account for over half of the Iowa economy.  They generally require some education and training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree.  Middle-skill jobs are important because they pay family-sustaining wages and provide pathways to advancement.  Industry sectors such as construction, manufacturing, health care and transportation have large concentrations of these jobs…paying approximately $770 a week.

The preparation for middle-skill jobs is diverse and covers a wide range of options, including certificate or degree programs from postsecondary education institutions, training through employer-provided programs like internships, registered apprenticeships and military training.  Competencies for some middle-skill jobs can also be acquired through significant on-the-job training in lieu of a formal postsecondary degree or certificate.  Two-year degree holders, especially in high-demand occupations, can earn salaries that surpass those of individuals who earn four-year college degrees.  In fact, workers with two-year degrees in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) can have greater average lifetime earnings than four-year college graduates in many other non-STEM career areas.

In 2013-2014, Iowa’s jobs and workers by skill level is reflected in the data below:

High-Skill Jobs            33%                    Middle-Skill Jobs             55%                   Low-Skill Jobs           12%

High-Skill Workers    34%                    Middle-Skill Workers      32%                   Low-Skill Workers    34%

(Sources:  2014 Occupational Employment Statistics, Labor Market Information Division, Iowa Workforce Development.  2013 Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.)

The projections for 2012-2022 are as follows:

  • It is projected that in 2022, 55% of employment in Iowa will be in middle-skill jobs.
  • Between 2012 and 2022, 53% of new jobs will be middle-skill.  New jobs are additional openings that occur as a result of new businesses or business expansion.
  • Over the same time period, 49% of replacement jobs will be middle-skill.  Replacement jobs are those that need to be filled as workers permanently leave the labor force or retire.
  • 50% of the annual job openings between 2012 and 2022 will be middle-skill.

(Source:  2012-2022 Iowa Occupational Projections, Labor Market Information Division, Iowa Workforce Development.)

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