This article was published on April 20, 2022

No degree? No problem: Big Tech fights worker shortages by lowering hiring requirements

Forget college, bootcamps are where it's at

No degree? No problem: Big Tech fights worker shortages by lowering hiring requirements Image by: THE 9TH Coworking on Unsplash

Tech hiring trends in the US indicate what the Wall Street Journal is calling “a giant shock to the workforce as record numbers of controversially-called “blue-collar” workers are breaking into ICT roles on technical teams — sans the once prerequisite four-year college degree.

Dubbed “new-collar jobs” by former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in an open letter to then-president-elect Donald Trump way back in 2016, the push to make technical job opportunities accessible through unconventional education and/or on-the-job training is not a new idea. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the number of global, remote employment opportunities for new-collar career transitions into tech roles is, however, apparently unprecedented.

Management consulting firm Oliver Wyman has reappropriated the term “New Collars” to refer to “blue-collar workers who used the pandemic to learn new skills so that they could find better jobs”. According to its research — surveying 80,000 employees between August 2020 and March 2022 — “more than a tenth of Americans in low-paying roles [in hourly positions] made a switch during the past two years. Many of the new jobs are in software and information technology, as well as tech-related roles in logistics, finance and healthcare.”

“In the Oliver Wyman poll, U.S. workers who described themselves as blue collar prepandemic said that enrolling in a specialized course or bootcamp, or acquiring another credential, had unlocked new kinds of jobs in sectors such as tech, data processing, healthcare, and electronics manufacturing. LinkedIn Learning, a major online credential platform, saw completions of certificate-eligible classes, such as project management, rise more than 1,300% between 2020 and 2021,” says the follow-up WSJ investigation by Vanessa Fuhrmans and Kathryn Dill.

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The entire piece is worth a read, and it includes multiple real-world stories of people who’ve nontraditionally transitioned into tech, like Zack Williams: a landscaper turned software engineer through a nine-month bootcamp; now earning double what he did in landscape construction, and 20% above what he requested in the interview.

Key factors contributing to this transition in tech hiring trends are cited as a tech job posting boom amid widespread digital transformation; the pandemic-induced great resignation; baby boomers leaving the workforce; and declining immigration resulting in a nationwide labor shortage, under which companies are more likely to drop college degree requirements. Find the story on WSJ here.

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