You may have heard of the term, ‘new-collar worker,’ originated by IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty, which refers to an individual who develops the skills needed to work in technology jobs through non-traditional education paths. These workers do not have a four-year degree from college. Rather, new-collar workers are trained through community colleges, vocational schools, software boot camps, technical certification programs, high school technical education, and on-the-job internships and apprenticeships.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), a subset of automation where machines learn to use judgment and logic to complete tasks, is changing the landscape of jobs today. This creates an increased demand for skilled workers for technical jobs such as database managers, cloud computer maintenance, cybersecurity, and other IT roles.
While we advocate pursuing a four-year education and we realize the long-term advantages of a bachelor’s degree, we also understand the demand for necessary IT skills. In fact, students in our programs are coming out of high school and entering into their careers as a result of NuPaths programs.
Alichwer graduated from Boiling Springs High School in June 2018. During his senior year, he enrolled in the pilot program with NuPaths. “I wanted to do something different from the traditional college path, says Alichwer. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do yet, and it sounded like a great opportunity.”
After the pilot program, he enrolled in the first adult education program in the cybersecurity pathway; a Security Operation Center (SOC) Analyst cohort that started in December 2018. Between both the pilot program and the IT security courses, he earned several certifications including CompTIA IT Fundamentals, Microsoft Word and Excel, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): Networking Fundamentals and MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals.
Alichwer said it took about six months to complete the program, which he finished shortly after graduating high school. “I had a job by the time the class ended,” he said. Currently, he’s working for WellSpan Health assisting with a transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
“I am swapping out thousands of devices,” he said. “I am under contract through the end of 2020. Once this project is complete, they plan to roll out with a new records system, which may extend my contract. Either way, the experience I’ve gained with the Windows transition will help me land a job.”
Alichwer said he acquired a lot of IT skills with NuPaths. He particularly enjoyed the chance to use virtual machines, which was great for beginners because they could be re-set. He said a valuable part of the program was the business skills classes. “We had a chance to create our resume, and prep for interviews,” he said. “They brought in professional recruiters who gave us feedback on our resumes and they had representatives who conducted mock interviews with us. For someone like me, coming right out of high school, it was insanely helpful to do the mock interviews and build my resume.”
Down the road, Alichwer hopes to further his education. He said he is grateful for the opportunity to gain experience so early in his career and he recommends the program to anyone who is unsure what they might want to do next. “It was an amazing opportunity,” he said of his participation in the NuPaths program.
Zang graduated from high school in June 2019 and he’s currently a college freshman studying computer science. His coursework with NuPaths enabled him to earn several CompTIA certifications as well as Networking and MTA Security certifications. All of which help him in his current job at a Service Technician for P2P Computer Solutions in State College.
“I was accepted to the summer semester at Penn State after graduating high school,” he said. “By the end of the summer session, I was able to start my job with P2P.”
Zang said that NuPaths has prepared him for college in unexpected ways. “It wasn’t just the preparation for the college curriculum, but also for the culture and the people.” Zang says he’s known as the go-to guy when someone has computer issues in his dorm. “I am very much people-oriented and I love to help others,” he said.
As far as how NuPaths helped him prepare for his job, Zang said, “It’s helped me in almost every way. It wasn’t just the transition; it was the execution and technical competency that really made an impact. The experience prepared me for a variety of technical service jobs that I hadn’t even considered.”
Zang eventually wants to work in the field of AI. He said the training and certifications he received with NuPaths combined with his continued education at Penn State will give him a well-rounded future. “Taking the college route will enable me to be a true professional in this field. I will have a degree, but in the meantime, I can have sprouts of knowledge and certifications to grow on,” he said.
As we move closer to the new year, a career in IT may be worthy of pursuit. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts a shortfall of over two million skilled workers next year. This means employers will be considering employing new-collar workers.
NuPaths offers multiple career pathways for the growing opportunities in information technology and digital marketing. Next year, we’ll offer courses in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh as well as our distance learning programs. Click here to learn more about developing your IT skills, earning IT certifications and pursuing a career in our Digital Marketing or Productivity pathways.