Sustained poverty reduction requires both the availability of jobs providing a living wage and people with the skills to fill those jobs. As the lead organization of the Skills2Compete (S2C) Coalition, CCLP advocates for “middle skill” jobs that require limited expertise yet provide an income that allows families to achieve self-sufficiency. The S2C Coalition advocates for increased access to job training and adult basic education programs so low-skilled and undereducated workers can earn a self-sufficient wage.
As may be expected, the level of education a person earns has a direct effect on their likelihood of living in poverty. The data is clear: the incidence of poverty declines as the level of education increases. In 2011, 25 percent of Coloradans without a high school diploma were living in poverty while just five percent of people with a bachelor’s degree were in poverty.
Employment and wages are also linked to educational attainment. Read CCLP’s annual State of Working Colorado report to learn more.
Colorado’s middle-skills gapColorado has a significant “middle-skills gap.” Middle-skill jobs are those that require some post-secondary education or training but less than a four-year degree. These positions make up 47 percent of Colorado’s jobs, but only 36 percent of Colorado workers have the training necessary to fill them.
This is not a short-term problem: two-thirds of today’s working Coloradans will still be in the workforce in 2025. Projections also indicate that by 2025, two-thirds of all jobs will require some level of post-secondary education or technical skill training. Post-secondary education and credential attainment is increasingly central to the ability of adults to earn family-sustaining wages, participate more fully in Colorado’s twenty-first century workforce, and contribute to our state’s economic health and vitality. Still, substantial economic barriers to education and skills training seriously hinder progress toward self-sufficiency for many Coloradans.
For more information, read the National Skills Coalition’s report, Colorado’s Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs, as well as CCLP’s fact sheet for the Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, Expanding adult education increases family economic security.