For American workers, having a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED)—which once represented a means of entrance to the middle class—is no longer adequate for finding steady employment. In fact, three quarters of low-wage workers have these qualifications but lack the relevant occupational skills and connections to employers needed to launch a career. At the same time, in some regions of the country there are persistent skills gaps clustered in particular industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare. Many of these jobs are expected to grow and require specific technical skills that can be gained only through focused training that is closely linked to the needs of local businesses.

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