new collar

Beyond Blue and White: Preparing Students for “New Collar” Careers

Inspire students to seek fresh opportunities and rethink the traditional career path by placing importance on new collar careers in your classroom.

new collarThe debate regarding the importance of higher education is occurring in many circles, including students, parents, teachers, and politicians. A traditional four-year college education has become expensive and graduates often accept entry-level, post-graduate roles that don’t provide salaries high enough to make student-loan payments possible. In addition to low-paid, college-educated workers, professionals in formerly booming industries, such as coal, and students for whom a four-year degree isn’t appealing, also seek relevance in today’s workforce. Bring on the wave of “new collar” careers.

Rather than looking back toward past opportunities that might no longer be relevant, Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO, penned an op-ed for USA Today which advises that focus should be placed upon new collar jobs. At the core of her proposal is the fact that almost every industry relies upon operations that are managed by technicians who must be qualified in the new skills through which the most recent technologies operate. While training for these positions is integral to a worker’s – and company’s – success, much of the education is received through vocational training acquired on the job, or through a career-specific high school program.

Getting Down to New Collar Business

Not only did Rometty’s article reveal a greater need for skilled workers in these new collar jobs, it also coincided with an incredible achievement. In December 2016, IBM celebrated the graduation of 16 students who began their studies in 2011 as part of the first class at the technology giant’s Brooklyn P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) initiative, which blends curriculum toward combined high school diplomas and associate degrees, according to the company’s Citizen IBM Blog.

These graduates joined a previous 54 students who graduated through an accelerated pace, completing the program ahead of its six-year timeline. The New York City public school is an educational collaboration with IBM and the City University of New York. Since its launch, the initiative has expanded to include 60 existing schools and 20 that are now under construction within the United States and Australia dedicated to not only preparing students for new collar careers, but providing opportunities for immersion into relevant STEM fields.

The New Jobs in New Collar Careers

new collarIt seems the list of new collar jobs has become endless and will continue to grow as companies invest in candidates who have a working knowledge of their field and desire to grow, yet did not earn a four-year degree. When discussing in-demand jobs with students, be sure to include new collar careers such as:

Performance Engineer

As corporations implement new technology to facilitate business, they must ensure performance is reaches its peak every day. Performance engineers test the capabilities of technological processes before approving programs and applications for use, or reporting back to their team regarding flaws in the system.

Mainframe Programmer

At the heart of every corporation, the company’s mainframe computers allow business to take place by controlling every process in all departments. The job of a mainframe programmer requires an employee to develop, troubleshoot, and repair applications; design programs that allow a business to run; organize the testing performed by performance engineers; and create procedural guidelines.

Front-end Developer

Learning how to code has become one of the most attractive STEM pastimes for kids, which puts students ahead of the game for landing new collar jobs, such as front-end developer positions. In this role, employees utilize languages such as HTML, CSS, PHP, and JavaScript to create the desired website designs for user interface.

These jobs might not require a four-year degree, but they are demanding and students should recognize that they might need to work harder than their college-educated counterparts to develop the skills necessary to succeed. With the help of dedicated, progressive teachers and on-the-job training, vocational school, or experience working in a new collar field, students will be able to set themselves apart from other candidates.

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Dorothy Crouch is a California-based writer who has covered many topics such as financial technology, travel and the pet-goods industry. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued her undergraduate degree at Hunter College and an M.S., Publishing degree through Pace University. Combining her love of learning and curiosity of the world, Dorothy studied abroad at Dublin, Ireland’s Trinity College, igniting a passion for travel. Dorothy’s thirst for knowledge and love of learning has led her to travel the world and pursue higher learning, including scuba certification. A lifelong animal lover, Dorothy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their fish and two lovable, spoiled dogs.

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