CareerFocus: Middle-Skills Prove to be in Demand

Career FocusBy Mary Ann Davis

Middle-skill jobs, which require more than a high-school diploma, but less than a four-year degree, makeup the largest part of Maryland's labor market. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, openings for middle-skill jobs are projected at 42 percent between 2006 - 2016.

Though the statistic is sizable, the unfortunate reality is the shortage of skilled workers. And, while too many employers struggle to find skilled employees, too many Maryland workers struggle to find decent jobs.

As a result of this dilemma, Gov. Martin O'Malley has initiated Skills2Compete. The campaign aims to ensure the state's workforce has the skills needed to meet business demand, foster innovation, and grow shared prosperity. In doing so, emphasis is placed on educating Marylanders on the importance of achieving some post-secondary training.

Lower earning and unemployed Marylanders who receive training for a middle-skilled job have more opportunity for career advancement and can earn significantly higher wages. The National Skills Coalition found that the 2006 median incomes for registered nurses were $67,000; $46,000 for electricians, $37,700 for carpenters; $37,100 for automotive mechanics and $36,300 for truck drivers.

Many recently laid off workers from declining industries are realizing their jobs are gone forever, and re-entering the workforce will mean acquiring new skills for a new job in an emerging or growing industry like infrastructure building, BRAC, health care, information technology, science and security, and jobs supporting the "green economy."

Community colleges are a local and often less expensive resource for middle-skill job training, and Carroll Community College proves evidence of this with offering many non-credit and credit middle-skilled training programs for the local community at competitive tuition and fee rates.

Carroll's Continuing Education and Training (CET) offers 43 short-term non-credit career training programs in animal welfare, business management, construction trades, graphic design, hospitality and tourism, child care, information technology, law enforcement, nursing and allied health, real estate and truck driving.

Many programs like Bookkeeping; EKG Technician; CompTia A+, Network+ and Security+; and Home Inspection lead to credentialing, licensing or certification.

Bookkeepers with two years of work experience can earn a national credential with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers by taking the Certified Bookkeeper Training course. Home Inspection Training is required to receive Maryland licensing. EKG Technician and CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+  training all prepare students for exam certifications.

There is also an apprenticeship program for students interested in Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning & Refrigeration (HVACR). Apprentices attend classes in the evening while working during the day in a related job, earning on-the-job training hours required for the program.

As a result of the recent demand, CET has started providing training for green/sustainable living jobs. The training includes classes for individuals interested in becoming Energy Analyst Technicians, Home Energy Auditors and Weatherization Installers, as well as classes for professional plumbers on Water Efficient Technology and real estate appraisers on Green Building Valuation.

Plus, there are a variety of non-credit workforce development classes for gaining new skills or improving current skills like classes for Small Business Accounting; Supervision Skills; Microsoft Office; QuickBooks; RN Refresher; First Aid, CPR and AED; Medical Terminology; Legal Transcription and many more.

Carroll also offers 19 career programs that lead to an Associate of Applied Science degree, Associate of Science degree, Certificate or Letter of Recognition. These credit programs include careers in accounting, art, early childhood education, information technology, law, nursing and allied health and office administration.

With the large demand for workers in the health care industry, Carroll recently added Health Information Technology (HIT) and Emergency Medical Services Paramedic (EMT-Paramedic) programs.

The HIT program trains students to create and/or evaluate health records for hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory care facilities, physician offices, home health agencies, and other health care facilities. Students have an option of earning an Associate of Applied Science degree or a Core or Advanced certificate.

EMT-Paramedic prepares students for advanced life support procedures, and to sit for the National Registry for EMT-Paramedic licensure exam - a requirement for most states including Maryland.

In addition, the college partners with Frederick and Howard Community Colleges under the Mid-Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium, and maintains separate partnerships with Hagerstown Community College and Johns Hopkins University to expand its health care training options to students.

The Mid-Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium includes Cardiovascular Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant, Respiratory Care and Surgical Technology programs.
Students receive advising at their home campuses, where they complete most, if not all, of their pre-clinical courses. Once accepted into a program, students take the clinical coursework at the institution providing the instruction.

Carroll's partnership with Hagerstown Community College permits students to study Radiography, and its partnership with Johns Hopkins University, offers students options to train for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Nuclear Medicine Technology and Radiography. Similarly, pre-clinical courses are taken at Carroll and clinical courses are taken at the providing institution.

Following the trend of job growth in information technology, Computer Information Systems (CIS) was one of Carroll's highest enrolled career programs in fall 2009. The CIS program provides instruction on microcomputer-based computer careers in industries like business, education, government, and others where computers are used for information processing. The courses teach students how software and hardware interrelate to build a cohesive approach to solving problems.

Whether non-credit or credit, these programs are ideal for recent high school graduates and adult students. They offer high school students looking to enter the workforce shortly after graduation with specialized training in a shorter time frame than a bachelor's program and an opportunity for obtaining a good paying job.

Adult students often juggle raising a family, meeting household expenses and sometimes working while pursing training for a new career. These programs provide a solution for obtaining the necessary skills to be highly employable with less time and expense than pursing than a four-year degree.

Middle-skill jobs currently, and will continue to, represent a considerable share of Maryland's labor market, yet there are not enough skilled Marylanders to fill these jobs. Though, these jobs require some training past high school, they do not require the amount of training as a four-year degree. As such, they provide an opportunity for lower wage earners and the unemployed to earn higher wages and advance their career or start a new career in a shorter period of time.

Increasing the number of skilled workers to meet the growth of middle-skilled jobs will result in a more prosperous business economy and workforce for Maryland.


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