As industries grow more reliant on technology and the skills needed to meet their new and changing demands, a new job category has emerged: new-collar jobs. IBM CEO Gini Rometty introduced the term “new-collar jobs” to refer to the in-demand technical skills that are obtained through vocational training, like Udacity’s Nanodegree Programs, opposed to a traditional four-year college. 

During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we’re experiencing more job loss than ever before. New-collar jobs offer an accessible and valuable way for workers to quickly break into tech-focused industries that offer stable careers with a lot of growth potential. 

Why New Collar Jobs are on the Rise

The advancement of technology and the workers needed to propel business forward is changing so quickly that it’s becoming near impossible to predict what skills will be most useful in 10 years. The old model of learning something in college and carrying that skillset throughout one’s career doesn’t match the changing demands of today’s labor market. New collar jobs take a more agile approach to education— teaching in-demand skills that can be applied to the technology of today. 

Some of these skills include knowledge in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and data science. Many employers are more interested in the value of the practical application and adaptability of these skills compared to formal education. 

Developing these skills is much easier, faster, and less costly than going the traditional route of obtaining a four-year degree, which makes breaking into the fields of new-collar jobs even more accessible.

The Impact of COVID-19 and Automation

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unemployment disaster and economic downturn that has followed, white-collar jobs are being hit especially hard.  

In “COVID-19 and jobs: Monitoring the US impact on people and places” McKinsey and Company wrote, “We estimate that up to 57 million US jobs are now vulnerable, including more and more white-collar positions.” This job loss is fast-tracking the inevitable change in the labor market that will continue to automate more and more jobs. 

“We find significant overlap between the workers who are vulnerable in the current downturn and those who hold jobs susceptible to automation in the future. In addition to the effects of technology, the crisis itself may create lasting changes in consumer behavior and health protocols,” the article stated.

The lasting impacts of the novel coronavirus to the workforce are still unknown, but it’s clear that new collar jobs are becoming more and more vital. While the loss of millions of jobs is a frightening static, it’s also creating an opportunity for millions of people to pivot to new collar jobs and develop secure, lucrative careers.

Preparing for the Future

Many of the blue and white-collar jobs that have been a staple in the job force for many years will be replaced by automation at some point. Instead of waiting for that shift to happen, adopting the most valuable tech skills now will better prepare people for stable work in the future.

The CEO of IBM, Gini Rometty, said “Even as we seek to revitalize traditional industries, lasting job creation will require an understanding of important new dynamics in the global labor market. This is not about white-collar vs. blue-collar jobs, but about the ‘new collar jobs’ that employers in many industries demand, but which remain largely unfilled.” 

The need for new collar jobs is only going to skyrocket as more industries adopt the technologies that are moving business forward. Mastering some of these skills today will prepare workers to ride the wave of job security into the future. 

If you’re interested in developing the technical and soft skills needed to land a new collar job, check out the Udacity catalog and see which program speaks to you. 

Start Learning