Differences Between Skilled and Unskilled Labor

For hundreds of years, the American job market was dominated by positions that require no formal education or training. Even after the Industrial Revolution, unskilled laborers had very healthy job prospects.

However, the market has altered dramatically for skilled and unskilled workers over the past few decades. There is a developing need for some degree of skill, especially for specialized abilities, which has increased the need for education.

While the need for unskilled labor has dropped, the labor pool has also appreciably dropped. Unskilled laborers are leaving the formal labor market or growing their skill level to become skilled workers.

The disappearing unskilled labor job market

Unskilled labor jobs are those that don’t require any unique training, abilities or experience. Jobs that didn’t call for much, if any, training now mandate at least a degree or certification. For instance, labor that was once done by hand now must be done by computer or other technology, requiring employees to have some technological know-how. Examples of remaining unskilled labor occupations include farm laborers, service industry jobs and general cleaners.

The growing skilled labor job market

Skilled labor identifies job that call for secondary education, specialized training or a learned skill-set. These can be either blue-collar or white-collar jobs with varied amounts of training or education that is tied to income level or status.

Skilled labor jobs not only include electricians and welders, but police officers, financial consultants and administrative assistants. Some skilled labor jobs have become so specific that there are employee shortages as not enough people are pursuing these niche occupations.

Semi-skilled labor – the one in the middle

The term ‘semi-skilled labor’ describes jobs that have a few basic requirements, which means not just anyone off the street can apply for them. These jobs call for some skill since they’re have some degree of complexity. However, they do not call for highly-specialized abilities.

In a 2010 study by the Indiana Institute for Working Families, greater than 50-percent the jobs in that state were considered to be semi-skilled. Examples of semi-skill jobs include CDL drivers and customer service representatives. These jobs normally mandate over a high-school diploma, but less than a college diploma. These jobs can be entry-level positions for those with a four-year college degree.

At Labor Temps, we connect job seekers to the opportunities that are best for them – regardless of training, education or experience. Check out our job board to see what jobs we have available today!