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Report Could Lead to More Chicago Jobs

Posted on September 23, 2008

A new report stressing Illinois‘ middle-skill careers could lead to more Chicago jobs.

The Workforce Alliance and the Skills2Compete-Illinois campaign recently released a survey reporting about a million middle-skill jobs should be available in Illinois by 2014. A middle-skill jobs is defined as one that requires more than a high school diploma but less than a four year college degree.

Middle-skill jobs are expected to account for almost half of all job openings in the state through 2014. The Skills2Compete campaign advocates an agenda that would guarantee access for all workers to schooling beyond high school. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, this would mean more associate degrees, apprenticeships and occupational certificates.

“At the heart of the campaign is this vision that every worker should have access to at least two years of post-secondary education and training that can be pursued at whatever pace makes sense to the workers,” Andrea Ray, Midwest field director for the Workforce Alliance, said in the article. “It’s a vision, but it’s also a framework that state and federal policymakers can use as they look at economic priorities and ways to channel investments.”

Some of the fastest-growing middle-skill occupations are in the healthcare industry. National employment for health technicians alone has doubled since 1986 to reach more than one million workers and salaries have increased.

“Inflation-adjusted pay for radiology technicians increased 23 percent between 1997 and 2005,” the article states. “Radiology technicians earned a median $48,400 in 2006. Of 30 middle-skill occupations listed in the Illinois study, all but one, emergency medical technicians, paid more than the state’s median wage of $31,637 in 2006. And all but eight are projected to experience double-digit employment growth during the decade ending in 2014.

“Among those experiencing the fastest growth are dental hygienists, with a 35 percent growth rate and 2006 median earnings of $63,100; heating and air-conditioning installers, 23.6 percent growth and $42,500 earnings; and paralegals, 24.3 percent and $43,900, respectively,” the article adds. “Other fast-growing categories include computer specialists and repair and maintenance workers in industries such as manufacturing.”