When Josh Hannaford saw that IBM used the phrase “no degree, no problem,” advertising for its apprenticeship program, he cried. Then, he applied.
“It just blew me away that a company like IBM was recognizing that there was a whole untapped workforce out there and they were going to give us a chance,” said the 21-year-old Hannaford.
Hannaford dropped out during his freshman year at North Carolina State because traditional school just wasn’t for him. But after a few years of working at a shoe store, he decided to go to Alamance Community College — an IBM education partner in Graham, North Carolina — to pursue a career in technology.
Today, he is a software engineering apprentice at IBM and has an offer for a full-time position, starting in October. The salary the apprenticeship offered was double what he made at the shoe store. The promotion comes with another raise.
“It’s been such an amazing opportunity,” Hannaford said. “Financially, this has absolutely changed a lot.”
So-called new-collar jobs, positions that require specific skills but not a bachelor’s degree, are in high demand, according to ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace. The skills gap, in which jobs stay vacant for lack of qualified applicants, has given opportunities to people like Hannaford who take the initiative to train for hotly desired skills.
Many new-collar jobs offer the potential for job security, career growth and a large salary increase from other jobs available to those without college degrees. While the median annual salary for someone with some college but no degree is about $40,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many new-collar jobs offer wages over six figures.
“The reality is that the middle-class lifestyle that they want has actually never been more readily available,” especially to those who are able to invest time in training, said Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter.
The positions are so enticing that even people with degrees are retraining to boost their salaries.