They used to be called Blue Collar jobs, but wait they still are. However, with advancements in technology things have changed. Traditional Blue Collar jobs are professions such as being a plumber, a mechanic, a carpenter, or an HVAC Technician. New Collar jobs are different and require higher level education. Some New Collar jobs are Web Developer, Computer Programmer, Systems Administrator, Cyber Security Specialist, Help desk Support Technician, Computer Technician, Software Engineer, and Project Manager. This includes cybernetics and robotics.
The lines have begun to blur, however because the systems and subsystems that Blue Collar workers maintain have become increasingly controlled by embedded systems and small computers. The distinction between an embedded system and a small computer are that an embedded system only has so much computing power and handles only so many bits. Embedded systems sometimes work together in subsystems to help control a larger system. A small computer is small enough to control a complete system and is small enough to fit into the tight spaces required of it as designed by engineers.
However, Blue Collar workers and New Collar workers have the ability to communicate and collaborate, meeting each other in the middle of the blur. The real problem is growing and training enough New Collar workers to fulfill the needs of the industry so that Blue Collar workers can still do their job effectively and efficiently. Many of the tools and equipment Blue Collar workers use contain embedded systems that might need to be either programmed or reprogrammed by a New Collar worker.
The trend I’ve seen is that it is not only difficult for an aspiring New Collar worker to get a job once they have their degree but many of the New Collar jobs out their require a certain number of years experience in the same or similar field. This also means an Internship. The question is, how is a new New Collar graduate going to get the type of job they want straight out of college if they don’t have the work experience required by the industry even though they have the required degree?
I have found there are several ways to do this. However, the recent legislation that was passed and signed by President Trump and led by Ivanka Trump has helped alleviate this problem even further. Schools have begun to incorporate STEAM and STEM courses into school curriculum. Programs such as P-TECH and SKILLS USA help train and prepare students beginning in high school for New Collar jobs. STEAM and STEM help prepare younger minds in pre-high school grades for programs such as P-TECH and SKILLS USA.
Program such as P-TECH and SKILLS USA provide paid Internships for students grades 9-12. This means that by the time they graduate from high school they will have the required years of experience working in the New Collar field of their choice. They can continue on to a college or university. While students are in high school they can get a certification from an organization such as CompTIA A++. A high school student can begin the certification process from the age of 13.
There needs to be more businesses that support programs such as P-TECH and SKILLS USA. IBM is one of the biggest supporters of these types of programs. But companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and NASA do not currently support P-TECH.