Tabetha Moore was a year away from earning her associate’s degree in human resources when a local manufacturing company gave her a full-time job in her field and agreed to pay for her last two semesters of school.
The 21-year-old hasn’t yet negotiated the salary she’ll earn after obtaining her diploma from Fox Valley Technical College in May, but that fact she secured a job so quickly reflects a new era of opportunity for graduates of two-year college programs.
“What surprised me most was that they would hire a 20-year-old without a degree to work in their human resources department,” Moore said.
She’s one of a new generation of graduates defying a stereotype that technical colleges offer a “second-to-best” option for those who don’t attend a university. Demand for technically-trained, skilled workers has driven up wages and employment opportunities for associate degree holders with highly-sought skill sets.
Analysts and educators refer to the situation as a skills gap. A wave of new jobs in a changing, high-tech economy is rolling in just as a mass of baby boomers retires. The end result is a glut of vacant positions with too few workers with desired skills.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor