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New-Collar Workers and the Future of Skills-Based Hiring

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

The hiring landscape has definitely changed over the last few decades. In previous years, college degrees were emphasized and required for jobs when it was questionable that they were even needed. The influx of Artificial Intelligence is also increasing the demand for workers with actual skill sets. This is causing the emergence of the “new-collar worker.” What is this kind of worker and what is the future of hiring for companies who are now focused more on skills than degrees?

Definitions. New-collar workers are people who use nontraditional education resources to gain the technical and soft skills necessary for technology positions. Rather than having a four-year degree, they obtain their training through vocational schools, community colleges, boot camps, certification programs, and on-the-job internships. The CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, coined the term “new-collar worker” when faced with hiring their technical teams.

Employers use skills-based hiring for these open positions. It’s the hiring practice used to onboard these new-collar workers. According to, skills-based hiring, “ensures recruiters are screening for the right variables that lead to the best performance, and it will ultimately create a much more diverse workforce with the range of perspectives to successfully address the diverse, dynamic, and complex marketplace.”

Inside Indiana Business goes on to say that when employers stick to their degree requirements for open positions, they are eliminating at least 70% of candidates that would be otherwise qualified. When employers add years of related experience to their demands, they are eliminating another 15-20% of their potential pool. It is obvious how these strict requirements (that were once common) are greatly reducing their candidate selection and weeding out perhaps ideal employees who lack degrees and direct experience.

This is good news for those workers who have been frustrated in the past with falling short of job description requirements. Employers are now focusing more and more on technical skills but also transferable skills that are foundational for being a strong employee. Some of these competencies include communication, collaboration, critical thinking, interpersonal skills, proactivity, and independence. We’ll see more and more emphasis on these skill sets in our educational institutions and they are a great place to start if you want to demonstrate to an employer you fit into the new world of strong job candidates.

What is skills-based hiring, why companies are using skilled-based hiring, New Collar Worker.

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