Higher paying jobs are often associated with big cities, but Pierce County is trying to reframe that narrative with a recent news release showcasing the opportunities available in job industries that require only a little more than a high school diploma.
Based on WorkForce Central’s “Skilled Jobs in Pierce County: Gaps & Opportunities” report, there are nearly 4,000 annual openings in the region for “middle skill” jobs that pay, on average, more than $20 an hour or more and need only some postsecondary training or certification to begin. Some of the employment opportunities are more in need of workers than others. Office clerks, truck drivers, administrative assistants, customer service representatives, and teacher assistants were job categories that had the highest deficit of workers in the county compared to available jobs.
Middle skill jobs — which include electricians, nurses, insurance agents, machinists, pharmacy technicians, and firefighters — make up nearly 40 percent of the county’s economy. The WorkForce report identified that there’s already a labor shortage in the county and the deficit gap is expected to widen as workers retire over the next decade.
The report also found that the training Pierce County residents are seeking is lopsided compared to available jobs in the area. For example, there’s a 664-person surplus of locals seeking employment in web development versus the 39 annual openings for that job in Pierce County, according to the report.
Some of the challenges in filling local middle skill jobs included a “mismatch” in supply versus demand, few women seeking out those jobs, and the lack of people seeking training in those fields.
One of the county’s benefits, however, is available resources for job training, including Bates Technical College in Tacoma, which, for the second year, was named one of Forbes magazine’s best two-year trade schools in the country.