Technology has created revolutionary changes to many occupations, sometimes called disruptive innovation, and changed the nature of work everywhere. In the Southeastern United States it means that more jobs have evolved to the point where “middle skills” are the point of entry to get employed for fast growing occupations that are in demand now. The Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity, a division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, produced a report in 2018 that identified 55% of the jobs in its region as being in the middle skill bracket.
Middle skills are generally defined as a level of education that is greater than high school, but less than a typical four year bachelor’s degree. The most common middle skill credentials are industry or skill certifications, and two year associate degrees awarded by community or technical colleges.
In short, it means that we need to look at new ways to get today’s youth interested in going into middle skill occupations so employers can compete in the global economy.
The Pew Research Center, in 2018, reported that 95% of teenagers have access to smart phones, and that 45% of them are consistently online. In addition, up to 75% of households with a teenager provide them access to a desktop computer. In addition, 83% of females and 92% of males routinely play video games with a desktop or gaming console.
Making the Case for Games!
- Career Exploration (K-12)
- Incorporating employment sector based games into structured learning objectives could generate interest in middle skill career pathways
- Simulations, in some cases, may offer a best case alternative to help youth see what a real occupational workplace is like, and be able to perform simulated tasks in that environment
- Workforce Development
- WIOA youth programs must spend 75% of their funding on Out of School Youth (OSY) between the ages of 16 and 24
- OSY could become interested in more middle skill occupations if gaming simulations were planned into the training approach
- Several simulations have components that can be used to teach leadership, teamwork, financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills, etc.
- Simulations can be used to enhance sector strategies
- Business Development
- Business leaders can work with area education and training providers to match their employment sector up to a simulation
- Business input would be useful to develop designed learning curriculum for each type of simulation
- Fun and engaging simulations that closely match up with concepts or a work environment in an employment sector can help with “rebranding” efforts geared toward today’s youth
- Economic Development
- Regional Economic Development Districts (EDD’s) such as Councils of Government (COG) could serve as conveners and coordinators for technology, sector partnerships, and engage local area workforce development boards
- Economic development and business attraction and retention efforts may be strengthened if more in school and out of school youth are directed into career pathway opportunities