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New Collar Jobs

By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst

Aside from the headline disappointment, there were a lot of positives in the December Employment Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics – it had glaring reminders of where the nation is going with respect to jobs and the skills to attain those jobs. 

Back in the day (1950 through 1980), most households had a single worker; it typically was the father who earned enough to buy a house and have a decent car and to help his children attain financing to get through college. The great factory boom, particularly in the north, resulted in massive population flows along with the Great Migration of blacks from the south.

In the mid-1970s, a high school graduate earned close to 85% of what a college grad earned. Today, that ratio is rapidly approaching only 50%.

High school diplomas have lost leverage with respect to higher wages. However, the nightmares about young college grads being unable to move out of their parent’s basement have become so commonplace, it is more like ‘man-bites-dog’ when they are married and own homes. 

Note: homeownership among those aged 30 years and younger profoundly reflects problems of college debt - 40% of those with a bachelor’s degree or better (and no student debt) own their own homes, but that number plunges to just 33% of those paying off those loans.

In the Middle

What’s the answer to the nation’s crippling skills gap and the expensive out-of-reach cost for college?  In a letter to newly-elected President Donald Trump, Ginni Rometty, the Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM, outlined her thoughts on the so-called “new collar” jobs:

Mr. Donald J. Trump
Office of the Presidential Transition
1800 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. President-elect:

Congratulations on your election as the 45th president of the United States.

Last Tuesday night you spoke about bringing the country together to build a better future, and the opportunity to harness the creative talent of people for the benefit of all. I know that you are committed to help America’s economy grow in ways that are good for all its people.

Creating “New Collar” Jobs

Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree; at some of our centers in the United States, as many as one third of employees have less than a four-year degree. What matters most is relevant skills, sometimes obtained through vocational training. In addition, we are creating and hiring to fill “new collar” jobs – entirely new roles in areas such as cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence and cognitive business.

You’ve spoken about the importance of vocational education, and we agree. IBM has championed a new educational model for the United States – six-year public high schools that combine traditional education with the best of community colleges, mentoring, and real-world job experience.


Ginni Rometty

Chairman, President and CEO, IBM

Getting New Collar Workers

The big question is how we will get Americans looking for work to attain the skills they need for those six million jobs that have gone begging for months?  I think it’s wise for businesses to train employees, and to plan for them to stay a certain amount of time to protect the investment, and perhaps a promise to the newly hired folks that they won’t be laid off.

Let’s be honest:  if companies can promise billion-dollar stock buybacks for years to come, they can offer job security to their best workers. Of course, there is also an onus on workers to hone or develop new skills.

Here are examples of New Collar jobs from Monster Employment Agency:

  • Job title: Pharmacy Technician
  • Company: Ladue Pharmacy
  • Job title: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • Company: Spectrum Healthcare Resources
  • Job title: Cloud Administrator
  • Company: Vistronix
  • Job title: Service Delivery Analyst
  • Company: Mercer LLC
  • Job title: Cybersecurity Architect
  • Company: IBM

Charles Payne
Wall Street Strategies


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