D.C. needs more middle-skill workers

While many Georgetown students could be unable to grasp the fact that there are jobs in D.C. other than at Deloitte and PwC, an analysis conducted by the National Skills Coalition says that the District has fewer middle-skill workers than potential jobs for them.

A middle-skill job requires education beyond high school but not a four-year degree. According to the analysis, in 2012, 27 percent of jobs in D.C. were middle-skill, but only 23 percent of the workers in D.C. could perform them. And that gap between jobs and workers might increase even more. According to DCist, the D.C. Department of Employment Services predicts that 30 percent of all jobs will be middle-skill.

To address the deficit in middle-skill workers, the city has several programs aimed at educating adults to receive these skills. But, with over 60,000 workers without a high school diploma in the District, progress can be slow at moving some of them into better jobs.

One way the city government has worked to help low-wage workers is through reform of criminal employment rights. This past spring, the D.C. Council “banned the box” that required job applicants to tell employers if they have ever been convicted of a felony.

Democratic mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser has already made moves to protect the estimated 60,000 D.C. residents with a criminal record, according to DCist. She held a meeting earlier this year and discovered that just five criminal applicants were hired by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in fiscal year 2013. Perhaps they were concerned that criminals would find a way to steal trains. Metro is currently being sued over it.

“This is a difficult economy in a lot of ways to carve out middle-skill jobs opportunities,” Director of Workforce Initiatives at the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region Sarah Oldmixon said “It’s just a challenge to continuously make sure that the training programs are being very conscientious about connecting people to the right types of skills and credentials.”

Photo: stavos via Flickr

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