By: Felecia Brasfield

As a result of the economy reopening and shifting post-pandemic there seems to be a great deal of stress on the labor market. The good news is that blue-collar workers may have found a way to stay current and garner increased wages. Savvy individuals spent time wisely during the pandemic by learning new skills, which created an avenue for the blue-collar to new-collar jobs. 

Those who obtained new skill sets are now increasing their chances of getting hired and simultaneously gaining higher salaries. CNBC spoke with several market analysts and economic forecasters who closely watch the manual labor jobs market. Their findings shared that wages continue to go upward for this group even faster than salaries for traditional white-collar jobs. Let’s look at what kind of opportunities have these new collar jobs created

What Exactly Is New Collar?

The term ‘new-collar’ was coined by former CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty. U.S. Veterans Magazine shared Rometty’s reasoning.

“To help entire industries acknowledge a shift that needs to occur amidst hiring managers to look beyond the four-year degree and focus instead on a candidate’s relevant skills—particularly when obtained through valuable hands-on experience.”

Indeed explains new collar jobs as, “professions where employees develop their technical and soft skills through nontraditional education paths.” This situation has employers looking for a skill-set rather than a specific type of candidate. These new collar employees have technical training through community colleges, certification programs, and previous internships. And these new collar employees are going to be essential moving forward within the manufacturing industry. These newly created positions have paved the way for more automation in traditional blue-collar roles. 

Automation of Blue Collar Jobs

Newly automated processes may mean that ‘knowledge jobs’ will be needed less. According to Future Today Institute CEO Amy Webb, knowledge jobs will be erased before blue-collar positions. The Future Today Institute conducted studies to consider which positions have a higher likelihood of being eliminated. The results showed that hands-on jobs wouldn’t likely go away due to the lack of automation ability.  Webb mentioned occupations like trucking and plumbing aren’t standardized across their respective industries and are unlikely to vanish. 

Many roles can be automated fully or partially with software. However, businesses that welcome automation can use those tools to create newer jobs like automation developers in place of network operators.

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What Are My Options?

There are numerous positions within the ‘new collar jobs’ category, especially for skilled labor workers. These workers are gaining extra skills and money, with most positions falling into one of four categories: Engineering, Healthcare, Software, and Technology. 

  • A Field Service Engineer can expect to earn over $70,000 based on national averages, according to Indeed. Field engineers travel to various job sites to support installations, set up security systems and address hardware issues. These positions can be found within the electric and manufacturing industries.
  • Machinists and Tool Makers can expect over $23 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This type of position requires the individual to set up and operate equipment used in parts manufacturing. Most machinery and part manufacturers don’t require a 4-year degree and usually receive on-the-job training. 

In addition, the position titles listed below or similar roles are becoming more prevalent within the manufacturing and IT industries. 

Manufacturing IndustryInternet Technology Industry
DrafterCloud Administrator
CNC OperatorBusiness Intelligence Analyst
Industrial Engineering TechCybersecurity Architect
Machine OperatorNetwork Support Specialist
Tool & Die MakerTechnical Sales Assistant

What’s Next?

While the current economic landscape presents more remote-work opportunities, some jobs shouldn’t be transitioned. Many of the blue-collar to new-collar positions require in-person skilled workers. The Department of Labor indicates a 70% increase in paid internships and apprenticeships. Due to the nature of these jobs and required experience, they are highly likely to stick around for a while.

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