MORE THAN 2.5 MILLION GOOD-PAYING JOBS WILL BE CREATED IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.
WILL WORKERS KNOW HOW TO GET THEM?
Joseph Poole will make more than $100,000 in wages and overtime by the end of the year.
The 21-year-old works in what looks like NASA's mission control, monitoring the manufacturing process at Chevron Phillips petrochemical plant in Houston. Poole didn't get the job with the engineering degree he originally considered. Instead, Poole landed it with a two-year course at a local community college.
"The potential to make just as much money as an engineer, but for half the cost of the education, was here," Poole says. "Just seeing firsthand how things are made is something I really enjoy doing."
By 2017, an estimated 2.5 million new, middle-skill jobs like Poole's are expected to be added to the workforce, accounting for nearly 40% of all job growth, according to a USA TODAY analysis of local data from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. and CareerBuilder.
Not all pay as much as Poole's, but all pay at least $13 an hour; many pay much more. These jobs require some training but far less school than a bachelor's degree. Technology has given many a makeover, leaving them worlds away from their assembly-line predecessors and challenging the notion that good blue-collar jobs are dead and that the only path to a good career is a four-year degree.
-MaryJo Webster, USA TODAY