In the middle-skill job market, the world is increasingly divided between the jobs that demand digital skills and those that don’t—and the ones that don’t are falling behind. Much of the debate over technology in the workforce has focused on sophisticated skills, such as writing code. But the more significant impact on the middle-skill job market is in the humbler world of everyday software: spreadsheets and word processing, programs for medical billing and running computerized drill presses. To a large extent, a job seeker without the ability to use this software won’t even get in the door.
Middle-skill jobs, roughly defined as those that require more than a high school education but less than a bachelor’s degree, comprise 39% of U.S. employment. These jobs matter because they have long sustained a middle-class lifestyle for millions of Americans, and because they’re increasingly pressured by changes to the economy. Two-thirds of Americans don’t have a college degree, and these jobs represent important career opportunities for them. A study of job postings by Burning Glass Technologies found that middle-skill jobs that require digital skills are outpacing those that do not in a wide range of ways:
- Nearly eight in 10 middle-skill jobs require digital skills
- Digitally intensive middle-skill occupations are growing faster than other middle-skill jobs.
- Digitally intensive middle-skill jobs pay more than middle-skill jobs that do not require a digital component