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Are Postsecondary Institutions in Rural California Preparing Enough Middle-Skill Workers to Meet Workforce Demand?

To strengthen and maintain the economic health of California’s rural regions, policymakers, community leaders, and other education and industry representatives are partnering to achieve the right balance between workforce supply and demand. These cross-sector partnerships strive to align local education programming with labor market needs but often lack the data (and sometimes the capacity) to do so.

This Regional Educational Laboratory West study helps fill that gap by examining the extent to which the workforce supply in four rural California regions aligns with the demand in middle-skill occupations, which require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.

The report found that 83,756 middle-skill workers are needed each year to fill available jobs in the four regions combined, but education institutions granted credentials to meet only 24 percent of demand. The study also found that most of the available middle-skill jobs pay a living wage at the entry level and that the demand for most middle-skill occupations in rural California are projected to increase over time.