When millions of people remain unemployed in the U.S. even as millions of jobs go unfilled, something is out of alignment within the talent ecosystem.

That’s one of the insights of a new Accenture report, “Finding the middle: How businesses can manage the talent pipeline to close the middle-skills employment gap.” The report focuses on what businesses can do to address the inefficiencies, misunderstandings and lack of preparedness that prevent these jobs from being filled.

Why focus on middle skills? Because estimates show that almost half of all job postings today (47 percent) are for middle-skills jobs—those requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

Accenture research has found that 73 percent of employers expect to see their need for middle-skills jobs grow in the next two to three years.

Employers need to take action to influence the full middle-skills talent supply chain—the overall process by which talent is sourced, developed, deployed and retained.


  • Develop talent pool relationships: Employers need to treat community and technical colleges (a primary source of middle-skills talent) as they treat other suppliers of critical resources. They need to invest in a relationship with partners in the system, especially around communications. The various parties can collaborate in establishing shared metrics, developing standards and communications protocols, and exchanging data about actual results.

  • Reinvigorate talent development: If companies are to take the lead in eliminating the middle-skills gap, working with educators and workforce intermediaries is just the first step. It is equally important to develop complementary internal development programs. These include:

  • Providing training to entry-level and newer employees.

  • Offering internships and apprenticeships.

  • Hiring interns and apprentices more regularly.