A shortage of talent for mid-skill jobs in New York City is linked to low wages and an inadequate education system, experts say.
A mid-skill job is one that requires a high school diploma and a post-school certificate, but not necessarily a four-year degree—for example, many technology, health care, and trades jobs.
“Tech in particular, while growing, is not at levels of mid-tier cities like Seattle and Austin due to higher cost of living,” said Jessica Walker, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, in an email. “So figuring out how people in tech, health care, and business and finance can live with families in NYC and the state is important.”
The shortage of talent prompted job search website Indeed.com to dig into its vast database for answers.
A big problem in New York City is labor market polarization, or “a hollowing out of middle wage jobs,” said Daniel Culbertson, an economist at Indeed.com.
The company separated its job database into 800 different categories, then ran the data through two filters: The first was whether a wage had kept pace with inflation, and the second was whether a wage was higher than the unadjusted median amount for that job in the year 2000.
Only 35 percent of New York City jobs made it through the filters.
The origin of talent shortage lies in the education system, said Allison Armour-Garb, senior fellow at Public Policy Institute of New York State.
In New York City, only 35 percent of high school graduates are college-ready, she said, and at least 50 percent of students have to take at least one remedial class when entering college.
The city spends more than $70 million on remediation classes at CUNY alone, Armour-Garb said. “[We’re] paying millions for material they should have already mastered in high school.”