It's Not Your Dad's Voc-Ed Anymore - 'New Collar' is the New Blue Collar

Aug 24, 2021


Jobs that once required a few months of training and a menagerie of sturdy tools now often need workers who can operate a 3D printer or fix a robot.

KSFR's Dennis Carroll reports on a collaboration of businesses, schools and job training outfits that offer worker training in a variety of much-in-demand digital fields through the Santa Fe Community College.

Try to remember, if you can, back in the day, those visits with your high school guidance counselor. Those little chats would go something like this: "Well, now that school was about over what the heck are you going to do?"

For whatever reasons, going into college just was not your thing. So, that's when the guidance counselor brought out that punchy, hyphenated word that started with a V.

Voc-Ed or vocational education. 

 

Car mechanics, typewriter repair or maybe refrigerator maintenance. All those jobs if they still exist, now take more than a few months of training and a sturdy set of craftsman tools to master. It's all digital, all the time.

 

Nowadays, trade skills might involve setting up and maintaining a 3D printer in a dentist's office, or fixing your way with a robot in a Walmart warehouse. That's where Sarah Boisvert's Fab Lab Hub and New Collar Network enter the picture. Together, they are a nationwide collaboration of nonprofits, commercial businesses, and academic institutions spent on training workers and the many new digital skills demanded to some extent at least by nearly all mainstream businesses today.

 

In Santa Fe, her Fab Lab and new collar classes are offered through the Santa Fe Community College at the Santa Fe Higher Ed Center on Siringo road, which the Fab Lab Hub and new collar – think blue and white collar – network offer badges or certificates of accomplishment through the community college in a wide variety of digital based training programs. They include: robot repair, computer aided design, also known as CAD, 3D printing, and laser and computer numerical control machining.

 

Boisvert offered insights into the programs and who benefits the most.

 

"The people who benefit most from this kind of training are people whom  college is not the right fit," Boisvert said. "Where maybe they're really good at math, but they don't like all the rest of subjects and they don't really have an inclination to go to college. Or maybe they have children or maybe they're trying to change careers or maybe they've been hit by the pandemic and are looking for a career change to something more stable."

 

She continued. 

 

"These are jobs that are typically starting in the, you know, $60,000 range in our area, but it also benefits the larger economy, because if we're a state where we have digitally sophisticated workers, we're going to attract more businesses."