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January 25, 2019

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Multiple Pathways to Top Ten Skills of 2019

This region is rife with economic opportunities. In fact, there are 7 million jobs available nationally,[1] and 56,960 open jobs were advertised in Northeast Ohio on the Ohio Means Jobs website in November 2018 (see sidebar). While the availability of many job openings can be good news for those seeking employment, it is what MSNBC refers to as a "tight labor market" where employers may find it difficult to find qualified and reliable professionals to fill positions.

Our economy has changed greatly due to globalization, automation, and upskilling. "The new competitive environment generated by the synergy of automation and globalization has led employers to demand a higher level of skills from workers."[2] Increasingly, it is less about having a certain degree or certificate and more about the skills one can bring to the workforce. Both hard skills (e.g. industry credentials, degrees, specific training) as well as soft skills (e.g. critical thinking, teamwork, adaptability) are needed in today's working world.[3] 

How does one develop skills that will lead to a good job opportunity? According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, there are three common pathways to a good[4] job: high school diploma; middle-skills including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, college career and technical education, customized training, non-credit education, certificates, certifications and associate's degrees; and Bachelors' degrees. Nationally, in each pathway there are a certain percentage of good jobs - as of 2018, 20% were associated with a high school education, 24% with a middle-skills pathway, and 56% with a Bachelor's pathway. 

With more than one pathway to a good job in the current economy, one thing becomes evident. It's not about emphasizing college over trades, liberal arts over hard science over technology, or traditional versus hands-on experience; it's about recognizing the value of each of these valuable experiences, providing accessible pathways to our traditional and non-traditional students, and translating those into marketable skills.

The field of opportunity is calling, whether you're interested in technology, artificial intelligence, engineering, art, space exploration, education, nursing, music, industry, farming, political science, sociology, or history...the working world needs lifelong learners who never tire of building new skills.

[1] US Bureau for Labor and Statistics.
[2] Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Three Educational Pathways to Good Jobs: High School, Middle Skills, and Bachelor's Degree. 
[4] A good job is defined as "one paying a minimum of $35,000 for workers between the ages of 25 and 44 and at least $45,000 for workers between the ages of 45 and 64." Carnevale et. al 2018.
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The Stark Education Partnership - a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Stark County, Ohio -  is a catalyst, engaging and collaborating with education, business, civic and community stakeholders to drive sustainable improvement and innovation to provide all students with education and career success.  

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