Times of transformation in the workforce bring fear, but they also bring opportunity, such as the rise of the new collar worker - a termed coined by IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty to describe those with the knowledge to keep the increasingly automated world running smoothly.

"New collar workers fill newly-created, untraditional positions, which are a product or necessity of cloud platforms, new-tech skills and data science," says Ian Scott, national manager of Randstad Technologies, a specialist IT recruitment company.

If you like the sound of the new genre, you'll be glad you're unlikely to get dirt under your fingernails as a blue collar worker might and you won't need to slave away for years at university, like you might before entering the white collar workforce.

Better still, opportunities are out there right now - IBM even has plans to introduce 25,000 new roles under this bracket over the next four years.


So, how do you get a piece of the action?

One new collar worker, cloud architect Kishan Gunaratna, 45, says it's a case of upskilling to fill the gaps and meet the demand, which he did following his departure from a 15-year role at Oracle Corporation in off-premise IT.

"I left Oracle because I wanted to push boundaries within myself and I became interested in cloud computing after reading a lot about it," says Gunaratna. "I felt I had half my career left and what I was doing at Oracle felt like it was limited in how many more years it could be done."

Cleverly, he discovered he could study computer science content for free online at many Ivy League universities, such as Caltech and Stanford. The courses available weren't the current courses, but they still gave him the perfect grounding, without the high price-tag, to prepare him for certifications he completed later in solution architecture.

"To me, it was a total reinvention of my career - it's completely different to what I was doing four years ago," says Gunaratna. "To be more employable, I took it upon myself to learn all I could."

He also spent time searching through the Amazon website, which is the primary cloud technology API Talent works with, as well as A Cloud Guru, which offers affordable Amazon cloud courses for beginners to advanced. There's also an annual Amazon technical conference with thousands of sessions you can listen to on YouTube, while watching the presentation on LinkedIn SlideShare.

"It's as good as being at the conference - without having to take the trip overseas!" says Gunaratna, who is a big reader of his LinkedIn contacts' news stories.

"If people are writing about a topic on LinkedIn, then I see it on the newsfeeds I subscribe to - such as TechCrunch or on a blog, then I'll look into it; that's how I became interested in cloud architecture."

For those worried about where their future lies, and thinking about making the change to the new collar workforce, his advice is to: "Read, read and read some more! Not having time isn't an excuse, prioritise some time in each day to educate yourself - there's so much digital content out there and idle time in the day to read."

He's happy he had a previous career before turning to cloud architecture, because he believes having experience in the "old world" and the "new world" can bridge the gap in understanding and empathy for clients who are migrating over to the new system.

He enjoys his new role, which is to deliver and build solutions on the public cloud for customers in a variety of industries. As the uptake in the cloud platform increases, he'll see less work on migrations to the platform and believes cloud security will become a thriving area of the industry and he is keen to school himself on this area, too.

"Cloud architects have only been around a couple of years so there's definitely opportunities for people," says Gunaratna. "Another skill that goes with that is for security in the cloud and so security architecture is definitely something that will grow."

And no matter what repetitive workplace activity is replaced by automation, he'll be out in front learning the new skills needed.

"I'm not constructing something like a blue collar worker might, or training to be a white collar worker, but I'm using my brain, my knowledge," says Gunaratna.

"It all interests me and I'll keep educating in new areas; I always want to keep running."