A Closer Look

High School Diploma or Less in the US – Some occupations offer clearer pathways to additional training and skills development

Many workers are likely leaving less desirable jobs to pursue better-paying opportunities, to gain additional education, or are simply dropping out of the labor force.

Yet there are several notable exceptions, particularly among the skilled trades and many infrastructure-related jobs, which have lower educational barriers to entry and offer more competitive wages.

As shown in the chart below, a variety of different occupations – from septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners to bus drivers and electricians – are not only projected to have higher separation rates compared to all U.S. jobs, but they also tend to employ workers with only a high school diploma or less. At the same time, some occupations, such as helpers for pipelayers and plumbers, offer clearer pathways to additional training and skills development; other occupations, such as solar photovoltaic installers, are also projected to surge in importance and offer expanded employment opportunities.

Wages in these infrastructure jobs also tend to be higher, especially for workers at the lower end of the income spectrum – at the 10th and 25th percentiles. In fact, they can pay up to 30 percent more at these levels compared to all U.S. jobs. For instance, among the same group of ten infrastructure occupations projected to see high separation rates, all of them pay higher wages at the 10th and 25th percentiles, led by nuclear technicians and gas compressor and pumping station operators.

Not surprisingly, several efforts among employers, schools, and other workforce development groups are already well underway to fill these looming job gaps. For example, among transit agencies looking for more operators and transportation workers, New York, Los Angeles, and numerous other cities are ramping up recruitment and training. Likewise, from San Francisco to Philadelphia, water utilities are actively partnering with schools and other community organizations to prioritize hiring for mission-critical occupations, provide on-the-job training, and strengthen long-term career pathways for prospective workers. In addition, various national and state initiatives – led by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for instance – are raising awareness of the challenge at hand and strengthening region-to-region collaborations to boost shared learning.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The future American workforce will have a lot of jobs to fill, particularly in infrastructure



  1. Pingback: Career Pathways – An employee-focused model | Job Market Monitor - August 23, 2019

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