Momentum for Middle-Skilled Mobility

by Fernando Rodriguez-Villa 12/07/2020


There has been significant news coverage dedicated to American labor markets this year, with a particular focus on workers without college degrees. This is not surprising given the largest shock to labor markets in the past century has had an outsized impact on low and middle-skilled workers.

The covid-related attention being paid to workforce development topics has often highlighted momentum in the research community that has been building for several years.

Researchers, employers, and educators have been increasingly alarmed by how hard it is for low and middle-skilled workers to change jobs between industries. Brooking’s Workforce for the Future Initiative has been publishing reports since 2018 investigating workforce dynamics with a particular focus on mobility. Recently, their report highlighted the “narrower pathways” for workers unemployed due to covid and was covered by the New York Times.

This dynamic is hard on workers in an environment where whole industries are in decline and automation is likely to redefine the role of humans in the workplace. It’s also hard on employers in growing industries, who have experienced skills gaps, even for roles that require training but not a college degree (the “middle-skilled” jobs we focus on at AdeptID).

Books like Oren Cass’ The Once and Future Worker and Isabel Sawhill’s The Forgotten Americans advocate for shifting investment from higher education to vocational training to make it easier for workers to fill the skills gaps where employers are experiencing them.

At AdeptID, we want our software to serve as the connective tissue between all these initiatives. In order to achieve mobility at the scale the economy needs it, we need systems that are personalized to the skills and aspirations of each worker. As we work with employers and training providers, we’re gathering crucial outcomes data and constantly refining the way our analytics identify the latent talent in each individual.

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