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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
Natasha Nel
Story by

Natasha Nel

Natasha Nel is a journalist at the The Next Web, based in Amsterdam, covering technology, startups, growth, strategy, and careers. Natasha Nel is a journalist at the The Next Web, based in Amsterdam, covering technology, startups, growth, strategy, and careers.

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.

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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