Technical Education Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant

January 02, 2020 by Midlothian Economic Development

By 2020, it is expected that almost two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary training or education, according to the “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020” study, conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

These jobs will require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. 

Common consensus is that there is a critical need for workers to fill these jobs, but there is a severe shortage of workers with the right skills and training to fill them. Whereas employers once provided the training for middle-skill jobs, individuals must now find programs at community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools, and apprenticeship programs to gain the education necessary for these lucrative careers.

Across the board, industries are feeling the crunch when it comes to middle-skill talent:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is expected to grow 18 percent between 2016 to 2026, adding 2.4 million new jobs.  Growth is expected to be especially prevalent in patient-facing roles that do not require extensive college credentials. However, industry experts report that a chronic shortage of skilled workers will mean hundreds of thousands of medical positions will remain unfilled. 
  • Roughly 2.4 million manufacturing positions could go unfilled between 2018 and 2028 due to retirements and new job growth, according to a  2018 skills gap study released by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs in the United States but only 400,000 computer scientists trained to fill those jobs.
  • Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally by 2021, up from one million positions in 2014.
  • According to “Recovery 2020,” at the current production rate in higher education, we will fall 5 million short of workers with postsecondary credentials needed by 2020. 

The middle-skills umbrella spans an enormous array of occupations ranging from electricians, dental hygienists, police officers, retail workers, and paralegals to registered nurses, physical therapy assists, cybersecurity professionals, radiologists, machinists, welders, and much, much more.

The demand for these positions is being fueled by an aging workforce, the pace of technology, advances in artificial intelligence, a long-time “four-year college for all” message to high schoolers, and a shift away from employer-subsidized training, to name a few factors.

The bottom line is this: employers and educators must rethink how they are cultivating, shaping, training, and upskilling their current and future workforce.

Addressing the middle skills gap will take creative, collaborative efforts between public and private sectors to ensure that employees’ skills are relevant, adaptive, and versatile.

The need for these skills has never been greater, especially here in North Texas where business is barreling forward at a lightning-fast pace.

In this series, we will spotlight specific tech skills to learn why they are important, what role they play in our economic future, and how area schools are feeding the talent pipeline.

Explore our first installment in the spotlight series: OTA's: Enhancing Quality of Life One Patient at a Time.

For information on the importance computer-aided design, check out our second installment: Drafters: Designing The Future.

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