Mariah RineyThought LeadershipLeave a Comment

Our partners over at IBM are often the thought leaders in the digital transformation space. The newest topic of conversation is about ‘New Collar’ workers. This topic was touched on at IBM Think 2020 multiple times, and describes these workers as people who develop technical and soft skills through non-traditional educational paths. This often takes the form of certification, or continued education through platforms like Udemy versus 4-year schools and technical programs. So what does this mean for evolving companies? 

New Collar workers often approach learning new skills for two reasons, necessity, or curiosity. In the world where unemployment is on the rise, and more and more tasks are outsourced or automated, many employees are feeling the pressure to assimilate. This often takes the form of learning new skills, whether soft or technical, that seemingly make them indispensable in their current position. Older workers may pivot mid-career to find something more lucrative or interesting, whereas younger workers often gain certifications so they can be competitive with established workers with seniority. 

On the flip side, curiosity is a driving force for innovation, and in the continued learning sector that is no different. You probably know someone that took the higher education path, but are not using their degree or the skills they learned now. These workers may find once they enter the workforce that their interests are in other areas, meaning to enter that new industry they must either teach themselves or shell out money and go back to school. Many opt for the first option, and as a result, more and more companies are gaining workforces that are well rounded in interpersonal skills, as well as touting unique backgrounds.  

So Why hire New Collar Workers? 

“Thousands of jobs were going unfilled in our company, so we wanted to create new pathways and opportunities to find talent,” says Kelli Jordan, director, careers and skills at IBM .“By looking at different options, we can find candidates, across all backgrounds and education levels, that we might not have considered before.”   

New Collar workers bring an evolving, and hungry edge to your company. Not only are they motivated to keep up to date with trends and skills, but they also did it on their own time showing initiative. Companies can leverage this by introducing these workers to their teams and encouraging continued learning. This will allow New Collar workers to influence your traditional team, encouraging them to learn new skills, as well as supporting them with continuous learning opportunities. 

New collar workers unique backgrounds can help drive innovation because of their diverse backgrounds. In companies where problem solving is a much-needed skill, these backgrounds often translate well. By forgoing traditional requirements for a job, and instead focusing on potential and development, companies may find a ‘diamond in the rough’ that in turn helps polish their current workforce. 

Incorporating New Collar Workers

IBM has made leaps to not only welcome New Collar workers, but to give them the tools they need to flourish. Your company can welcome this workforce trend as well in a number of ways. IBM has a gateway available for employees to learn new skills, get certified, and find support when they need it. Any company can do something similar to help drive digital transformation within their employees. Even just a folder on SharePoint with files pertaining to current and upcoming projects can be helpful! A more diverse, and skilled workforce equals an easier time implementing new technology for your company, and constant digital transformation.

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