Big Tech is tackling labor shortages by scrapping degree requirements

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Hiring trends in the technology sector in the United States indicate what the Wall Street Journal calls “a giant shock to the workforce as a record number of controversially called “blue collar” workers move into ICT roles on technical teams – without the once prerequisite four-year university degree.

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

Management consultancy Oliver Wyman has reappropriated the term “New Collars” to refer to “blue collar workers who have used the pandemic to learn new skills in order to find better jobs”. According to his to research – surveying 80,000 employees between August 2020 and March 2022 – “more than a tenth of Americans in low-paying positions [in hourly positions] changed direction in the past two years. Many of the new jobs are in software and information technology, as well as technology-related roles in logistics, finance, and healthcare.

“In the Oliver Wyman poll, American workers who describe themselves as pre-pandemic blue-collar workers said that enrolling in a specialized course or bootcamp, or acquiring another degree, unlocked new types of jobs in industries such as technology, data processing, health and electronics. manufacturing. LinkedIn Learning, a leading online credentialing platform, has seen the completion of certificate-eligible courses, such as project management, increase by more than 1,300% between 2020 and 2021,” says the WSJ follow-up investigation by Vanessa Fuhrmans and Kathryn Dill.

The entire article is worth reading and includes several real-life stories of people who made the non-traditional transition to technology, like Zack Williams: a landscaper turned software engineer through a nine-month bootcamp; now earns double what he earned in landscape construction and 20% more than he asked for in the interview.

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


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