Companies considering new category of employees

For generations, people have basically been divvied up into two categories when it comes to their jobs--- either blue collar or white collar.

Today, there’s a major skills gap in many industries. So, companies are scrambling to attract…train…and compensate a whole new category of employee. That means a new kind of collar and new opportunities.

After high school, Mike Oppenheim proudly picked the marines over college, but he wanted to learn a skill he could use once he got out. “I was a Signals Intelligence Marine,” he says.

Fast forward a few years, and Oppenheim is working in the cybersecurity division at IBM, explaining, “Some of the most exciting things that we work on is just really trying to stay on top of what different threat actors are doing, how they're actually changing, ya know, the ways that they target networks.”

Mike’s working on sensitive information ---without a degree. IBM VP David Barnes says Mike is part of the company’s campaign to hire ‘new collar’ workers.

“Why do we call them new collar,” says Barnes?  “Well, they’re not blue collar and they're not white collar. We're looking for people with the right mix of skills and a willingness to learn.”

And the company is willing to teach because analysts predict 1.8 million unfilled positions in cybersecurity by the year 2022.

IBM has initiatives with the military, is helping to develop specialized tech school programs, there is a new campaign to reach out to community colleges, and motivated people with a high school degree are welcome, too.

IBM is not alone. “Right now, we see a skills gap not only in the high-tech world, but we also see it in healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing,” according to James Goodnow, co-author of Motivating Millennials.

He says new collar jobs are booming because baby boomers are retiring in larger numbers than young adults are getting degrees in specific fields. “What we see is not only a skills gap taking place right now but a skills gap crisis, and smart businesses realize that they have to create the next generation of worker.”

Mike is happy to be part of the next generation. He believes while college is right for many, the skills he has learned are more important than any piece of paper could ever be. He says, “I would say for ‘new collar’, you know, it's trying to take nontraditional paths in order to get where you want to be in your career.”

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