In 2016, online job posting website Indeed produced reports revealing ongoing issues facing the technology industry. These reports identified hiring difficulties experienced by human resource managers and recruiters, and talent shortages in the industry overall.

According to an Indeed survey, nearly 9 in 10 respondents, or 86% of those tech hiring managers and recruiters surveyed, said they find it challenging to find and hire technical talent. An additional 36% said they find it “very” challenging and only 14 percent said it was not challenging to find talent.

The survey also found that more than half of respondents have hired candidates despite the fact they did not actually meet the job description requirements. And this is leading to dire consequences for many companies. More than 80% of respondents said their business has been hurt by the tech talent shortage, either through lack of revenue, slower product development, market expansion, or increased employee tension and burnout.

As a result of the talent shortage in the tech industry, many companies are changing their hiring practices to ensure they are bringing in the talent they so desperately need as quickly and efficiently as possible. They’re looking for those candidates most qualified to do the job, regardless of traditional criteria like higher education degrees.

This has given rise to a new category known as 'new collar' jobs. The employment category includes those jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, but do required a specialized set of skills usually related to technology.

New collar jobs present an opportunity for out of work professionals and those looking for a career change to move into a new field. Here are three ways professionals can update their skills to take advantage of these growing opportunities without having to go back to school fulltime.

Internships and mentoring

Multinational technology company IBM is leading the way in helping students and professionals take advantage of new collar jobs and the company’s CEO Ginni Rometty has been credited with coining the term. Employees who lack four-year degrees accounted for 15% of the company’s 2017 hiring in the United States.

The company recently launched a program with the U.S. Department of Labor focused on skills in software development, data analytics, and mainframe administration. The program is expected to grow to more than 100 paid apprenticeships in 2018.

In order to qualify for IBM’s mentorship program, the company asks that candidates have what are sometimes called soft skills, those competencies that can be learned in any setting. These include adaptability, communication, client focus, creative problem solving, drive, and teamwork. So far the program has accepted people from a wide variety of professions including teachers, veterans and construction workers.

Non-traditional education

According to a report released by Microsoft in 2012, nearly 70% of businesses were planning, implementing or using cloud computing five years ago. More than half of these businesses agreed at the time that cloud computing was a high priority. Yet, five years later cloud computing is an area seeing a talent shortage.

A 2017 survey by U.K.-based publication Computing found that more than 70% of IT decision-makers in medium to large organisations predicted a gap in technical cloud skills. And employers are looking to fill these gaps by bringing in new employees or promoting from within those who have gained the necessary skills.

In order to qualify for these positions, professionals can complete online certification programs through Amazon, Google, and Microsoft which all offer programs for their own cloud products. These jobs also sometimes proficiency an understanding of programming languages like JavaScript, which can be learned through nontraditional educational institutions like technology bootcamps.

On the job

According to a 2015 report published by Stanford University, there were more than 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the U.S. a few years ago. From 2010 to 2015, the Stanford report found that cybersecurity job postings had increased by nearly 75%.

And many experts in the cybersecurity industry have predicted that job vacancies in the field are poised to only increase further. A 2015 report by technology conglomerate Cisco Systems Inc. put the global demand for cybersecurity workers at 1 million.

The United States Congress is currently considering legislation that would give tax credits to employers who pay for workers to get training in cybersecurity. The New Collar Job Act of 2017 would allocate $5,000 a year per employee, for an employer who pays for an employee to earn a certificate or degree at the undergraduate or graduate level. This presents a unique opportunity for those workers who want to advance their careers while staying within their own company.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are currently 500,000 technology-related job openings. By utilizing the aforementioned programs, professionals can ensure these jobs are soon filled.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash.

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