Is your education preparing you for ‘new collar’ jobs?
Written by Darian Kovacs
As fast as technology is changing, the job force has been changing. No longer is it just two types of job forces – White Collar and Blue Collar, but a new player has emerged. New-collar jobs fall in the technology sector and have no traditional education paths. ZipRecruiter defines ‘a new collar job [as] a position that requires vocational training but not a 4-year college degree’.
Face it, you’ve never heard of a Bachelor’s in Blogging, or a Masters in becoming an Influencer. That isn’t to say you can’t find coding classes or other new-collar industry related courses in post-secondary education, but you won’t be able to have a degree in it. That being said, this isn’t to take away from what post-secondary institutions can offer you, but they aren’t necessarily the path for new-collar careers.
With that, there is a void that needs to be filled. Where are people who are becoming these bloggers, influencers, YouTube creators and social media coordinators getting their education from? Big players such as Google, Red Academy, Brainstation, Facebook, Hootsuite, Jelly Academy and so many more have stepped up and started to close the educational gap.
Many of these companies offer courses directly online, making it convenient for you to learn. Facebook Blueprint, Hootsuite Academy, Google Certification and Moz are taking the information that is missing and giving it directly to the public with both free and paid training.
Since this information and training has become so easily accessible, there is no wonder that ‘new collar’ was formed. This passion for learning and the ability to find the information that is needed to pursue this career path has made this new-collar category to come to life.
Social Media Career
Jessica MacLeod is a Social Media Coordinator at Jelly Marketing. This position came after completing 5 years at Kwantlen Polytechnic University with a BBA in Marketing Management, with a co-op.
“At KPU a lot of the classes were more theory based and less software and technology-based. We learned marketing theory as opposed to which platforms to use. I think this is because the curriculum would change each semester to keep up with the best practices”, explains MacLeod.
While there is theory taught in classrooms, it isn’t always up to date, hands-on knowledge. There are different avenues that are allowing this information to be known.
“A lot of the ideas of why you want to use certain software are taught in classroom, definitely brand awareness. However, they don’t necessarily give you the tools to achieve those goals or KPIs. Hootsuite gives you the up to date examples,”
Even though a co-op isn’t required for the degree, MacLeod thinks there should be a bigger emphasis put on it.
“I will say that the co-op option allowed me to put those theories into practice because I was working in the real world. I didn’t go into my career blind. Had I not gone that route I would have graduated earlier, but I wouldn’t have had the experience.”
Jessica’s job is always changing whether it be working on social strategies, creating and curating content anywhere from graphics, photos, blog posts and newsletters. Not only does she work with clients for Jelly Marketing, but she also gives consultations and training for clients so that they can have the tools they need to achieve what she does, but in house.
On top of her 9 to 5 day job, MacLeod is helping to bridge the education gap herself by teaching at Jelly Academy. She teaches small businesses, business owners and aspiring social media mavens how to grow their business and client base as well as increase their brand awareness online.
New Collar Training
Places like RED Academy are recognizing this gap and filling in this void. With campuses in Vancouver, Toronto, and London, UK, RED Academy is a tech and design school. They place importance on real-world application, pairing students with charities, start-ups, and non-profits to provide hands-on learning. This institution is built on the knowledge that there is a gap in education for these new collar positions.
‘RED Academy is different from traditional post-secondary education because of how often we adapt and iterate our curricula. Our UX & UI Design, Web & App Development and Digital Marketing instructors regularly meet with industry leaders to discuss changes, trends and new skills needed to succeed, and iterate their curricula based on the needs of the community.”
“Unfortunately, universities are limited in how often they can iterate their curriculum, given the bureaucracy and red tape they must deal with, but RED Academy's radically relevant content is core to our beliefs,” Jess Fumanski, RED Academy’s Marketing Manager explains.
“We are also differentiated from other schools through our Personal/Professional Development curriculum. As we figure out the working world through the first few years of the 21st century, the rate of change of the working world is exponential. Things we couldn't even imagine twenty years ago are now core parts of our everyday lives, (imagine when our teachers told us we needed to know long division because we wouldn't be carrying calculators around in our pockets,) and jobs that exist when our students graduate may be obsolete within years.”
“This is why we not only teach coding, digital skills and design, but we also teach them our students how to learn. Through our PPD curriculum, we teach growth mindsets, conflict resolution, overcoming obstacles, giving and receiving feedback, and more. This is meant to set our students up for success no matter what happens; hard skills may be replaced by computers and technology, but soft skills will always be an integral part of society and employment,” Furmanski continues.
Blog and Instagram Influencers
It's not always education that will land you into a New Collar career. Blogger and ‘social media influencer’ Codi Lynn (@creativewifeandjoyfulworker) didn’t make a plan to move into a new collar career.
“I started my blog six months after having my first daughter. Prior to that my work history was in customer service; a few years as a service representative at a local credit union and a waitress for over 7 years for an Abbotsford restaurant. While waitresses I also attended University for Business Administration, thriving in my courses of Marketing & Communications,”
“I have always had a knack for computers, joined Instagram very quickly after it launched and began running the Facebook page for the restaurant I served at when it first started. It wasn't until I was on maternity leave that I took time to refocus on this passion of mine and decided to go back to school for Graphic Design while starting a blog at the same time”
Her blog has taken off, but not due to sitting in a classroom learning how to become a blogger, but learning along the way. “I don't think it's ever a fact of ‘knowing all the skills first’, but the role of a blogger and “social media influencer” is ever evolving. I feel like I am constantly learning, and that's what makes me love what I do so much more. However, the basics of how to start a blog was all thanks to YouTube and other bloggers websites. The best part about the internet is that all the answers are out there, you just have to be willing to take the time to look.”, explains Codi Lynn
“Each day is something new, I can connect with another blogger or business owner and we can learn from each other. Getting to meet face to face and make real-life connections has given me the opportunities to take what I had grown myself and learned online and amplify it. Having a willingness to always be ready to learn is the perfect start”.
The process between finding the drive and education for a blogger and a youtube creator aren’t dissimilar. Clay Imoo is a well-known Youtuber who focuses mainly on the Canucks, who started playing around with Youtube 12 years ago. Not only has he found success in Youtube he also balances a full-time job working for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver. “ In 2006, I started my YouTube channel and I focused on family, faith, and ministry. I did daily vlogs during the 2010 Winter Olympics and I started doing Canuck's vlogs in the spring of 2010. 8 years later, I’m doing daily vlogs on the Canucks and I’ve done close to three dozen parody songs for and with the team!” Imoo said.
However, it wasn’t all due to post-secondary education that he has become successful, “My passion for creating videos started in high school and it has stuck with me ever since. I’ve basically learned the technical aspects on my own by trial and error. For some of my more successful work videos, I’ve been able to base some of my videos on current trends and thus they’ve been very popular.”
“Whether new collar, blue collar, or white collar, the most successful people will be the ones who dedicate time and energy mastering their craft. Thus, education for new collar jobs is extremely important. However, I believe that education for new collar jobs can take the form of “non-traditional education” like community college courses and industry certification programs. I believe the employers of new collar workers would value people who are flexible, adaptable, and teachable.”
His advice for anyone looking to go into a new collar position, “put in the work and the time, and not to presume that just because it’s a new collar job that it will be easy to be successful. Competition for jobs will be tough especially as new collar jobs become more prevalent.”
While traditional post-secondary institutions may not be preparing a generation for New Collar Jobs, there are other ways to learn. If new collar jobs are breaking boundaries and doing things your own way to make them work, the way to learn how to get into these positions are the same. Whether it be learning online, through short courses, or talking to peers.
ABOUT DARIAN KOVACS – JELLY MARKETING
Darian Kovacs brings over 15 years of experience in marketing, communications and public relations. Throughout his career, he has also been a founder and board member of various foundations and charitable organizations. Through his award-winning company, Jelly Marketing, Darian has worked with various local, national and global brands building and executing on their digital & PR strategy.