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February 2018
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TD Magazine

Word Wiz: New-Collar Jobs

When describing jobs, people have traditionally lumped work into two broad categories: white collar and blue collar. However, a third category of jobs is starting to emerge: new collar.

The term new-collar job, coined in a November 2016 open letter by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, refers to new roles emerging in tech-oriented fields such as cybersecurity, data science, and artificial intelligence. Since then, it has exploded, appearing in countless articles across the web.

Why is it such a hot phrase?

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First, it describes the types of jobs that are coming to define the 21st-century economy. Skill-based and technology-driven, many of these jobs have only started to materialize in recent decades and can be difficult to fit into traditional categories.

Second, the phrase often applies to high-skill, high-paying jobs that don't necessarily require a four-year college degree, which is a good sign considering the rising costs of higher education. In her letter, Rometty argues for vocational training as a tool for developing these workers, pointing to successful partnerships between IBM, public high schools, and community colleges as an example for other organizations to follow.

Overall, it appears new-collar jobs are here to stay. The only question left is what will be the new-collar jobs tomorrow?

About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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