Learning to Hire For Skills, Not Degrees

The tech boom has certainly changed our lives and our workplaces. It has also lead to thousands of articles in the newspapers and stories on TV about the rise of tech jobs that require four-year degrees. What hasn’t been covered nearly as well as the creation of millions of another kind of job: new collar jobs. As much as these shifts have created a need for bachelors and PhDs, they’ve actually created an even bigger need: non-college grads who are known as new collar workers.

What is a new collar worker?

New Collar is a term for people who are classified by their soft-skills and vocational training, by definition they do not have 4-year degrees.

Work in new collar roles is often highly technical and new collar jobs are becoming more available than ever as fast industry expansion has lead to a predicted worker shortfall of 2 million employees. In fact, many say new-collar work may very well be the future of manufacturing! I can see why and if you’ve been following me for a while you know my thoughts on vocational school and apprenticeships. 

New collar fields are quite diverse. In addition to tech fields like computer support specialist and web developer, the field includes medical assistants, registered nurses, cable installation technicians. Other common new collar jobs include pharmacy techs, dental assistants, cloud computing technicians, and automotive technicians.

How Much Do They Make

Given the demand, pay for new collar jobs can be quite high. According to ZipRecruiter, some of the top jobs are in the Tech, Nursing, and Mortgage Industry fields with mean annual salary for many jobs eclipsing $100,000.

What skills are required?

Since the positions available are diverse, the skills required can be quite diverse as well, which means there are great jobs available for many different people in these settings. Forbes lists skills as varied as “digital skills to run automation and software, robotics, analyze data, cloud computer maintenance, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, and working with CAD files for CNC machining”, but all of those skills don’t even apply to ultrasound and pharmacy technicians, medical and dental assistants, and mechanics. 

How to Become a New Collar Worker

So how can you become a New Collar worker? Skip a college degree and instead research your states grant programs as some states are subsidizing the cost of training through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

A sign of the growing momentum for New Collar workers exists in the New Collar Jobs Act, which was introduced in Congress and would support training for cyber-security skills, and the plentiful companies who are creating their own programs for the future. IBM, who coined the term New Collar, has their own portal for developing New Collar skills. Delta and other companies are coordinating with schools for narrow skills-based programs to ensure they have adequate workforces. In addition, non-profits like Skillful and Opportunity@Work, aim to help searchers find skill-based work regardless of degree. 

Looking to make a change? New Collar jobs are available across the country, and according to CNBC some of the hottest markets are Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Boston.