Skilled workers are workers who have a special set of skills or level of expertise in a given area. These skills can be acquired through schooling or on-the-job training. Unskilled workers, in contrast, are employees without specialized training. This could represent a job filled by someone with only a high school diploma or perhaps someone who has not graduated high school. However, this does not mean that a high school dropout could not become a skilled worker. A diploma is not a pre-requisite.
An example of a very skilled worker would be a doctor, a teacher, or a therapist. Many times, a skilled worker is providing a service—for example, consider an accountant or an electrician. Other examples of skilled workers are hairstylists, plumbers, and police officers. As you can see, the range of training needed to be a skilled worker varies greatly. A doctor might require eight years of formal, college-level training to acquire the necessary skills, whereas a plumber can attend a technical program to become proficient. Many skilled work positions require some sort of license and/or the passing of a certification test.
The number of jobs available to unskilled workers is continually decreasing. Historically, these jobs were plentiful. Unskilled workers could find jobs on farms or factories. Today, many jobs previously filled by unskilled workers have been replaced by machines, such as picking produce from the fields or adhering labels to bottles in a factory. Unskilled work positions were filled by members of many socioeconomic levels and many different races in the past. Today, unskilled positions are more likely to be filled by minorities or economically disadvantaged individuals who may not have the same access to the education required to become a skilled worker. Unskilled positions also pay less money and have less room for advancement.
Additionally, skilled workers are more likely to emigrate to more developed nations than their unskilled peers. According to the Migration Policy Institute, “skilled workers are migrating more than even before.” With the increase in immigration, countries such as the United States will continue to see even more diversity in race and religion as time goes on. While one might be concerned that the absence of skilled workers in less developed countries may be detrimental for those countries, MPI suggests that “even if migrants do not return to their countries of origin, they transfer money, skills, technology, and even democratic ideas" that benefit their home country.