New Collar, a term coined by IBM’s CEO Ginny Rometty in 2018, is now being widely used to suggest a possible solution to the skills crisis. It is carrying a particular focus on STEM, and becoming increasingly applicable to roles within the manufacturing and healthcare sector. With new technologies being adopted to optimise production and work, in demand digital skills and becoming tailored towards managing the software. However, with technology evolving at a staggering rate, the approaches to skills training methods cannot keep up. Furthermore, the impending skills crisis is already here, with a predicted shortfall of two million workers in the US by 2020.
Due to the increasing pace of change in the workplace, we can be certain that the typical 4 year degree approach will not survive. IBM may have recognised this back in 2011 when it launched the first P-TECH school in New York City. This was through a partnership with City Tech and The New York City Department for Education. It is now one of the fastest growing networks of schools, with 220 institutions open by the end of 2019. P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early High School) has a unique grade 9–14 model with various apprenticeships and internships, meaning that high schools, community colleges and industry all work together to harness the right skills for future roles.
The entire programme is cost-free, has open enrolment, and focuses on disadvantaged youth. Graduates are also first in line for job interviews at partner companies. IBM has already hired 30 of the 240 graduates from affiliated schools so far, with a starting salary of at least $50,000. In comparison, the average college graduate will have a starting salary close to $48,000.
We could begin to see a future where work and education no longer work in silo and instead build creative training programmes that foster future specific skills to the company. By creating supported and differentiated pathways for young people, it can ensure the right skills are created and developed to fill the right roles, in a process that can keep up with the changing landscape of work.