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No Longer Blue or White: New-Collar Jobs Offer New Opportunity

Industry 4.0 monitoring app on a smartphone and smart automated production line with workers and robots on the background

A record 6.2 million jobs are currently open, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So why are 7 million people in America unemployed?

Traditionally in the United States there have been blue-collar jobs and white-collar jobs. However, technology has changed many aspects of work, and today things aren’t so blue and white. Many people are out of work because they aren’t skilled enough to perform at these modern positions.

Consider the example of manufacturing jobs that have been taken over by machines. The blue-collar jobs have been eliminated, but the machines and computers that now do those jobs still need to be programmed, maintained, and monitored by a person.

This hybrid profession now has a name: new-collar jobs.

New-collar jobs expand across industries and often entail professions that require specialized education, but not necessarily a traditional four-year degree. Right now many employers are having trouble filling these types of positions, mainly because the available workforce is under-skilled.

What does that mean for job seekers and career changers? Big opportunity. With the right training, you might be virtually guaranteed a job, and your training could even be employer-sponsored, making the process that much more seamless.

To curb the new-collar employment crisis, many companies are taking things into their own hands by launching job-training programs of their own. One example is Delta, which has a big need for aviation maintenance technicians. This job requires typical aviation maintenance, but with the technical knowledge required of modern aircraft. A little bit of blue collar and white collar, which makes it the perfect new-collar example.

The program is through a partnership with aviation maintenance schools across the country. Delta and the schools work together to create an educational curriculum that teaches specific skills to work on commercial airlines, making them ideal candidates for open jobs. Of course the hope is that they come work for Delta, helping them to fill their vast hiring needs.

Another interesting new-collar program that is trying to target younger audiences is P-TECH. This is a hybrid high school diploma/two-year degree program sponsored by IBM. According to the website, students graduate from the P-TECH program with their high school diplomas and their associate degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). It’s called a “grade-9-to-14 education model,” but notes that some students finish in under four years.

Imagine completing high school and already having a two-year degree. This is the impact that the new-collar revolution is having. And it’s not just for young people freshly entering the labor market. Middle-aged employees or career changers have a big opportunity if they’re willing to take the leap. With a bit of education and focus, a new-collar job could be on your horizon.

Have questions? Learn more by working with a GetFive career coach who can provide expert guidance into this fascinating next chapter of jobs.

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