ATLANTA - There's a new American worker evolving; one that relies not so much on degrees but rather skills.
We are familiar with blue collar and white collar workers, but the new collar worker is somewhere in between. This employee has a specific technical skill set, but it doesn't require a four-year degree to get it.
The big areas of opportunity we're talking about here are healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing. In order to do any of this today, you have to understand computers, programming, how to repair hi-tech equipment. And that requires some training whether it be a certification of some sort, a two-year degree or a vocational or trade school education.
This new collar worker is so important to the industry now that IBM - one company - says it'll hire 25,000 workers over the next four years.
Let's take a construction manager. This is a great example of a blue collar job that can be considered new collar. Here's what is new. Many business owners and homeowners want their house or office LEED certified. Meaning, the structures are environmentally friendly. That takes special knowledge.
Well look at this data, a construction manager, with green knowledge and a two-year degree can earn more than $88,000 a year. A respiratory therapist with the same degree can earn $51,100.
I should mention you can get these skills by also enlisting in the military. IBM is looking at vets to fill some of these soon-to-be available jobs.
Georgia has been carving a path forward on this for a while. Georgia has more than 40, public two-year institutions and countless vocational colleges as well as technical high schools geared toward this end.