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A welder takes measurements on the third floor of a hotel construction site. Photo: Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The rise of automation is hurting middle-skills jobs — those that require some training beyond a high school degree but not a bachelor's degree.

The bottom line: Not all middle-skills jobs are created equal. Some entry-level positions — human resources assistant or computer support specialist — are full of opportunities for advancement and a middle class lifestyle. In other sectors, like manufacturing, 62% of these jobs are dead ends, per a new report by JFF and Burning Glass Technologies provided first to Axios.

What's happening: Technology is rapidly changing the nature of middle-skills jobs, and employers, educators and policymakers are still playing catch-up, Manjari Raman, program director of Harvard Business School's Project on Managing the Future of Work, tells Axios. Those with high school diplomas and vocational or associates degrees should be well-equipped to do middle-skills jobs, but curriculums have not kept up with tech trends, she says.

By the numbers:

  • Researchers analyzed 4 million resumes of middle-skills workers with at least five years of experience and divided jobs into three categories: 1) lifetime jobs, which don't offer opportunities for advancement but remain sustainable sources of income 2) springboard jobs, which have pathways for promotions, and 3) static jobs, typically lower-paying positions with high turnover that don't often lead to careers.
  • In the health care sector, researchers found that 5% of jobs were springboards and 55% were static.
  • In business, 80% were springboards and just 1% were static.
  • In information technology, 84% and 0%.
  • In manufacturing, 0% of jobs were career springboards and 62% were static.

What this means: A dental hygienist works in a lifetime job, while a manufacturing inspector's job is static. Neither have much scope for advancement, but the dental hygienist has career longevity.

  • 77% of dental hygienists' jobs were stable, though only 1% had room for advancement, researchers found. Median wage for these jobs was $34.77.
  • 39% of inspector's jobs were stable, and only 2% advanced from those jobs. Median wage for these jobs was $17.31.

Some good news: 37% of the middle-skills workforce is in business and IT, where there's ample opportunity for advancement.

Be smart: Manufacturing has been hit the hardest due to automation, "but I can't think of a single job that hasn't been impacted," Raman says. Whether you're unloading goods at Walmart or working at a travel agency, "everyone is interfacing with technology and expected to do more than their parents and grandparents did in the same jobs."

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

2 hours ago - World

Sudan's military places civilian prime minister under house arrest

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were also detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

Why it matters: The arrests of the civilian faction in the Sudanese government came a day after U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman met with the head of the military faction of the Sudanese government General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and warned him against staging a coup.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Saudi dissident claims MBS said he could get "poison ring" to kill king

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attending the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, via video link, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Photo: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A former senior Saudi intelligence official who worked with the U.S. on counterterrorism alleged to "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed in 2014 killing the kingdom's then-monarch.

Why it matters: The claim by the exiled Saad al-Jabri, whom Saudi authorities describe as "a discredited former government official," that the crown prince, known as "MBS," allegedly said he could obtain a "ring from Russia" to carry out the attack, is one of several serious but unproven allegations he made on the CBS show.