Recent research published by Multiverse in collaboration with the Burning Glass Institute has unveiled a concerning trend in the U.S. labor market: over 36 million workers are ensnared in “high-churn, low-pay jobs.”
These jobs, characterized by having a median job tenure of 18 months or less and a median hourly wage of $17 or less, include positions like delivery/sales workers, retail salespersons, and cashiers. Such jobs were found to offer limited career advancement opportunities. However, these workers often possess skills that are highly transferable and valuable to in-demand industries.
A solution, as proposed by the research, lies in expanding apprenticeships to roles that have traditionally depended on conventional credentialing pathways. By doing so, millions of workers could transition into better-paying jobs, simultaneously addressing talent shortages faced by employers, according to the report.
The research explains that many sought-after skills by employers, such as customer service, communications, and management, are already prevalent among the high-churn, low-wage workforce. These skills can be further honed and applied in “apprentice-able” roles like IT Project Managers, Data Scientists, and Software Developers. Notably, these target jobs not only offer better wages but also provide more growth opportunities, superior benefits, on-the-job training, and often don’t require a college degree.
This urgency to reskill is only heightened by the looming threat of automation. The study found that a staggering 73% of low-wage roles are highly susceptible to automation, with positions like telemarketers and receptionists being particularly at risk.
Labor shortages and the foreseeable need for widespread reskilling demands a total shift in how the U.S. workforce approaches education and training. The research presents apprenticeships as a possible solution, one that could enable companies to tap into a vast reservoir of untapped talent, bridging the skills gap, and ensuring a more equitable and prosperous future for all workers.