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Report Chronicles Job Demand for Career and Technical Fields

Getting a bachelor's degree isn't the only path to a good-paying job.

A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Civic Enterprises posted Monday outlines the demand for career and technical education, noting there are 29 million jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree and pay middle-class wages between $35,000 and $75,000 annually. In a labor market with about 139 million jobs, that represents one in five positions.

Although the jobs, which are increasingly white-collar positions in offices or health care, don't demand four years of education, postsecondary training is needed for them.

To prepare for these middle-education, CTE jobs, the report chronicles five paths:

1. Associate degrees: Americans earn about 800,000 each year.

2. Postsecondary certificates: This is the most common training next to a bachelor's degree, with about 1 million awarded annually.

3. Registered apprenticeships: 90 percent are earned by men, primarily in construction.

4. Industry-based certifications: This test-based credential is often given by employers, such as Microsoft or Cisco.

5. Employer-training: With informal and formal training, this represents the largest investment in skill development of the pathways.

"As jobs that require only high school or less have disappeared, postsecondary education and training on the job and in schools have become the gateways to the middle class," the report says.

It calls the CTE system the "missing middle ground in American education and workforce preparation" suffering from lack of attention and funding. The U.S. ranks second internationally in the share of workers with a bachelor's degree, but 16th in sub-baccalaureate attainment.

These alternative pathways are often an affordable option for many students who start off their postsecondary education while holding down a job. And they can lead to a four-year university. The authors note that 28 percent of Americans who earned a B.A. in 2008 started at a community college.

The report concludes with a recommendation that the federal government invest more money in CTE in programs that align secondary and postsecondary curricula, reduce duplication and remediation, allow for dual enrollment in high school and college, and create opportunities for students to learn and earn. Also, it proposes a new Learning & Earning Exchange linking high school and postsecondary transcript information about courses taken and grades with employer wage records.


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