Job polarization may affect unemployment more than the economy

Even as the economy has recovered, employers have had to face a major talent crisis: the skills gap. The problem is not a deficiency of jobs, but a lack of skill sets to perform the functions of the available positions in the U.S.. The job market has become polarized, as its seen increases in both low-skill and high-skill jobs while the middle-skill level has deteriorated in many sectors according to research from Bloomberg. Manufacturing is an industry that requires middle-skill labor, and companies are struggling to fill their open positions. Recruitment agencies can assist companies in finding candidates of any skill level.

The research found 59 percent of workers in 1983 had middle-skill occupations, and the number dropped to 45 percent in 2012. As middle skill positions disintegrate, workers are left with with less opportunity to advance to high-skill jobs. Compared to previous generations, many younger workers have completed a higher level of education, allowing them to quickly advance to specialized positions, while some older, highly skilled workers are holding on to their jobs for longer. However, because of the perceived lack of jobs on the market, many young workers are accepting low-skill positions when they might have started at the middle skill level, according to Bloomberg. Mid-skill workers are also retiring early because they do not see room for advancement or their skills are not in high demand. 

Some economists believe the polarization of the job market can be traced back to how sectors have changed over time, according to the Washington Post. Rather than attributing the skills mismatch to specific industries, the newspaper states it could be caused by occupations becoming less routine over time. These jobs have predictable patterns, and employees may follow clear rules. Non-routine jobs require employees to be flexible and creative, and more positions today rely on these skills since many repetitive functions have become automated.

Impacts for the job market
To prevent polarization from getting worse, it may require significant changes, Bloomberg suggests. For young people, it could mean better educational opportunities to help them move directly into middle-skill positions. For older, mid-skill workers, it could mean more training opportunities so they can advance to highly skilled positions instead of dropping out of the workforce entirely. These shifts could improve unemployment in the long run. Meanwhile, businesses still need workers with varying levels of qualifications. Working with a manufacturing or engineering recruiter can help companies locate employees of all skill levels.