Not White, Not Blue, but Something New: The Rise of “New Collar Work”

Last updated: Apr 25, 2023

I previously shared my perspectives on a traditional college degree and how it remains an advantageous entry point to most careers. However, I’m quick to support that position by saying that periodic learning has become the new standard, even with said degree, for success over the long haul.


Today’s workforce must respond to economic shifts and technological disruptions with viable methods to remain qualified for its tasks — and there are now alternative employment opportunities and career paths falling between white-collar and blue-collar sectors.


A growing division of jobs where a college diploma isn’t a requisite has been termed “new-collar work” by former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who claims large pools of talent are unnecessarily overlooked by the workforce. And more and more industries are getting on board, abandoning the necessity of a traditional degree when a job description doesn’t call for it. New-collar positions allow workers to apply their skills-based training in a wide range of well-compensated fields. This is where knowledge work intersects with hands-on expertise.


There are numerous avenues to train for new-collar positions, including vocational schools, software engineering, cybersecurity boot camps, and professional certification programs. Many of these training options prepare individuals for employment in a matter of months and not years, which is quite cost-effective. Personnel can also take advantage of in-house training programs from capable companies as additional openings to gain professional education and training.


And this type of programming is the focus of USF Corporate Training and Professional Education. Our office has a variety of professional and corporate training courses and programs to satisfy upskilling and reskilling needs. Through our stackable credentials, personnel can accumulate a bundle of in-demand skills that can help them move to different or higher-paying jobs without a traditional degree. Our certifications help build a robust and diverse resume—making one a valuable asset to the workforce.


I’m no Nostradamus, but this I can predict: a flexible, resilient workforce will be expedient for the foreseeable future. The rise of new-collar work invites a large, talented segment of the population to meet today’s challenges and apply in critical—and well-paying—industries. We’ve begun to open our eyes to new possibilities as we see our priorities clearer. The crucial realization that a tremendous number of jobs depend more on skill sets rather than formal education is promising for the workforce.