Data, Artificial Intelligence & rapidly changing technology are changing jobs today and creating an increasing demand of skilled workers.
The US Department of Labor is predicting a shortfall of over 2 million skilled workers by 2020. What does this mean for employers? It means that companies are considering employing a new set of workers referred to as “new- collar workers”.
What is a new-collar worker?
A new-collar worker is an individual who develops the technical and soft skills needed to work in technology jobs through nontraditional education paths. These workers do not have a four-year degree from college. Instead, the new-collar worker is trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programs, high school technical education and on-the job apprentices and internships
The term, new-collar worker originated by IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty. This classification of employee evolved when faced with the challenge of hiring technical jobs including cloud computing technicians, database managers, cybersecurity, user interface designers and other IT roles. But IBM is not the only employer faced with the economy’s War for Talent.
Companies in the manufacturing and health care industry are also feeling the pain. In fact, the manufacturing industry views new-collar workers as the future of manufacturing. Manufacturers forecast they are on pace to have two million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025. The skills needed are digital skills to run automation and software, robotics, analyze data, cloud computer maintenance, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, and working with CAD files for CNC machining. Examples of new-collar worker jobs in other industries are ultra sound technicians, pharmacy technicians, medical assistants, dental assistants, mechanics and programmers, and service delivery analyst.
How do you hire for a new-collar job?
Hiring for a new-collar job means shifting your strategy from the traditional methods of seeking college education degrees and former job experience. The hiring strategies for selecting new collar workers involves looking beyond the information on the resume and seeking potential over experience.
Hiring managers should make a list of traits and skills necessary for success on the job and develop interview questions to assess these traits and skills. In addition to the interview, hiring managers need to look for previous school and work experience that utilized these traits in a different role. For example, work experience that required learning a new software system or technical skill is important. Other essential considerations are selecting applicants that demonstrate the ability to learn and process new information, a growth mindset, a technical aptitude, initiative and problem solving.
Where do you find new-collar job applicants?
Begin by contacting the local community colleges, vocation programs, high schools and other training programs in your community. Collaborate with these programs to create training programs within your company such as internships and apprenticeships where job candidates can develop their skills and demonstrate their abilities. Contact your state workforce development board to inquire about training programs. Some states are offering grant programs to subsidize the cost of training funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA. The federal government provides significant funding to states for workforce system programs covered by WIOA. You can collect applicants and build a pipeline for future applicants from all of these resources.
Develop training programs.
Training has always been good for business but in today’s labor market, it is vital to attracting and developing your employees. Therefore, you need to develop training programs for new employees, internships and existing employees to move into the new-collar jobs. This training should align with the actual job functions. Look within your company for subject matter experts who can help you develop a program that consist of on-the job training, on-line training, webinars, videos and classroom training. If this seems overwhelming, hire an outside training consultant to help you develop the program and train a team to deliver the training.
Although companies are facing the challenge of finding skilled workers, there is a solution. This solution involves a collaboration with the community, schools and your current workforce to develop training programs and new sources to collect potential job candidates for these new-collar jobs. It also means that HR and management must shift job requirements away from college degrees and experience and adopt a new method of hiring.
Written by Scholley Bubenik
Taken from FORBES January 2019