Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

Half the United States’ Most Skilled Workers Don’t Have a Bachelor’s Degree


Think you need a college degree to be a skilled worker? Think again.

With so much focus on staying competitive in global markets, jobs in the US bearing the STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—moniker are in high demand. A new attempt to evaluate how 26 million US STEM workers use these skills revealed that half didn’t need a bachelor’s degree.

“There’s a sense that the only route to the middle class now is a bachelor’s degree or higher, and I would say that’s the surest route,” says Jonathan Rothwell, the researcher behind the study.”But for the two-thirds of the population that does not a have a bachelor’s degree, and does not look like they are going to back to school anytime soon for a four-year degree that will cost tens of thousands of dollars and result in massive debt, I’d like people to be aware there are other ways to acquire valuable skills.”

Consider machining, often done today with sophisticated automated mills. The people who use drafting software to program those mills aren’t necessarily considered STEM workers, but it takes a fair mix of computing and engineering know-how to run those machines. Scholars at the Brookings Institution took advantage of a massive survey of US workers to find other jobs that fit the STEM bill but aren’t normally classified that way, including the technicians who install, maintain and repair machinery across a variety of sectors, health-care workers, and even car mechanics.

Read more at Quartz.

Tim Fernholz covers state, business and society for Quartz.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.