LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - For generations, people have basically been divvied up into two categories when it comes to jobs-either blue or white collar.
Now there's a major skills gap in many industries. Companies are scrambling to attract, train, and compensate a whole new category of employee.
These "new" collar workers and their skill sets are what head hunters are looking for the most.
After high school, Mike Oppenheim proudly picked the Marines over college but wanted to learn a new skill he could use once he got out.
"I was a Signals Intelligence Marine," explains the "new" collar employee at IBM.
Fast forward a few years and he is now working in IBM's cybersecurity division.
"Some of the most exciting things that we work on is just really trying to stay on top of what different threat actors are doing, how they're actually changing, ya know, the ways that they target networks," he adds.
Mike's working on sensitive information, without a degree.
IBM V.P. David Barnes says Mike is part of the company's campaign to hire "new collar" workers.
"Why do we call them new collar? Well, they're not blue collar and they're not white collar. We're looking for people with the right mix of skills and a willingness to learn," Barnes says.
And the company is willing to teach because analysts predict nearly two million unfilled positions in cybersecurity by the year 2022.
IBM has initiatives with the military and is helping to develop specialized tech school programs. There is a new campaign to reach out to community colleges. Motivated people with a high school diploma are also welcome.
IBM is not alone.
"Right now, we see a skills gap not only in the high-tech world, but we also see it in healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing," says James Goodnow, co-author of "Motivating Millenials."
He says new collar jobs are booming because baby boomers are retiring in larger numbers than young adults are getting degrees in specific fields.
"What we see is not only a skills gap taking place right now but a skills gap crisis, and smart businesses realize that they have to create the next generation of worker," Goodnow adds.
Mike is happy to be part of the next generation. He believes while college is right for many, the skills he has learned are more important than any piece of paper could ever be.
"I would say for 'new collar', you know, it's trying to take nontraditional paths in order to get where you want to be in your career" he says.
Goodnow says another reason the new collar option is so attractive to millenials, in particular, is that it provides a nontraditional career path that doesn't require any crushing student debt.
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