The demand for “middle-skills” jobs—those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree—remains high, yet the lack of a properly skilled workforce is hindering the ability of American businesses to compete globally. Similarly, a lack of relevant skills is hurting the average American’s ability to be more productive and therefore to earn more and improve living standards. Millions of job postings go unfilled even as millions of people remain unemployed or underemployed.

America’s business leaders can and must lead the charge to close the middle-skills gap. By working in collaboration with educators and policymakers, employers can spark a revival of middle-skills jobs in America. HBS research, in partnership with Accenture and Burning Glass Technologies, for the first time, analyzes America’s middle-skills jobs market data with a focus on competitiveness, and provides a framework for business leaders to prioritize jobs that matter for their business, industry, community and region.

Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills reports that to close the skills gap, business should first focus on middle-skills jobs that:

  • Create high value for businesses;
  • Provide not only decent wages initially, but also a pathway to increasing lifetime career value for many workers; and
  • Are persistently hard to fill.