Technological advancements — like artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printers and automated assembly lines — are growing by leaps and bounds. This means the future job market is looking quite different from the one most parents today are envisioning. The term “New-Collar” or workforce (sometimes referred to as “grey-collar — as opposed to “blue-collar” or “white-collar”) is being tossed around as a result.
But what does it really mean?
Technology Is Advancing
There are two things that determine the pace of technological advancement, Sarah Boisvert — author and founder of The New Collar Workforce — tells Parentology. Technical limitations and market need.
“In a world of complex systems, the evolution of a technology is often dependent upon multiple technologies advancing,” Boisvert explains, using the invention of 3D printing as an example.
At their outset, 3D printers were only viable for use by their inventor Chuck Hall, who created them for his stereolithography systems. The printers weren’t a good fit for mass-market use until the components (in this case it was switching from gas to solid-state lasers) became more economically and technically viable.
“The new lasers enabled laser-based 3D Printers to be user-friendly, more reliable, and economical,” Boisvert says. This, in turn, allowed more businesses to start using them. But that took time. The 3D printer was invented in 1983, yet it’s just hitting mainstream markets today.
Another example are smartphones. Every year, advancements in cell phones seem to grow in leaps and bounds. Today’s mobile phones look nothing like what we imagined possible when the first cell phone hit the market in 1983. Now, though, we have preconceived notions about ever-evolving technology. The concept of self-driving cars and trucks are already being discussed, though it may be a while before we actually see them in use.
Such a process illustrates how a lot of technology will be deployed: slowly, then seemingly all at once.
Where does that leave the workforce? Boisvert predicts over the next 50 years we’ll see a lot of advancements and changes.
“Subtractive manufacturing technologies will be replaced by additive manufacturing,” she says, adding that a lot of problems facing the workforce of tomorrow will surround the need for more specialized education and training, creating a skills gap during the transition to new technologies.
As blue-collar jobs become digital “New-Collar jobs,” employees will need up-skilling to be able to design, operate, and repair technology.
What Are New-Collar Jobs?
New-collar jobs are expected to replace blue-collar jobs as more advanced technology makes blue-collar positions obsolete. Working with this type of technology requires a different skill set than what is currently used.
“Unless education systems change, people will not have jobs in the new economy brought about by disruptive technologies,” Boisvert says.
However, the news isn’t all bad. Although The World Economic Forum predicts 75 million jobs worldwide will be lost to automation by 2023, an additional 133 million new-collar jobs will be created. “These new-collar jobs are digital, but often don’t require college degrees,” Boisvert explains, adding there’s going to be a large need for trained workers to program, monitor and repair advanced technology.
Helping Your Child Prepare
“Many jobs in the Future of Work haven’t been invented yet, so it’s very hard to prepare today’s students for the precise skills needed when they grow up,” Boisvert says. This includes critical thinking and problem-solving skills that cut across current technology demands, making project-based learning and on-the-job training critical to the future of children’s success.
As Boisvert observes, “Lifelong learning is the key to the future of work.”