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The New Collar Workforce

Author: Sarah Boisvert
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How the New Collar Workforce is Transforming Manufacturing

Interviews with 200 manufacturers reveal the skills in demand today, and the author shares recommendations for innovative training programs that will prepare the needed New Collar workforce.

Dr. Reinhart Poprawe, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, says: “Sarah Boisvert’s The New Collar Workforce is a spot-on ... view of the present situation of manufacturing in the US … If you have anything to do with manufacturing, you will benefit greatly from this sharp ... and comprehensive analysis!”

U.S. manufacturing companies are expected to face a shortage of 2 million skilled workers by the year 2020, according to reports. As a result, manufacturers and educators everywhere are looking for real, actionable ideas to train workers, reduce the shortfall and realize the potential of the new age of manufacturing that is upon us.

Author Sarah Boisvert is a co-founder of the commercial division of Potomac Photonics Inc. of Baltimore, Md., where she worked to commercialize a proprietary RF-discharge excimer laser. She currently serves as the company’s chief 3D printing officer.

At the core of this very timely and easy-to-read book is the undeniable passion the author has for the subject – it is one she has lived and breathed for many years – and the results of her survey of the worker needs U.S. manufacturers are facing, an effort that was supported in part by a contribution from the Verizon Foundation.

The “new collar” workers that manufacturers seek have the digital skills needed to “run automation and software, design in CAD, program sensors, maintain robots, repair 3D printers, and collect and analyze data,” according to the author. Educational systems must evolve to supply Industry 4.0 with new collar workers, and this book leads the reader to innovative organizations that are recreating training programs for a new age in manufacturing.

The author’s call to action is clear: “We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity to look to the future and fundamentally change manufacturing jobs but also to show people the value in new collar jobs and to create nontraditional pathways to engaging, fulfilling careers in the digital factory. If industry is to invigorate and revitalize manufacturing, it must start with the new collar workers who essentially make digital fabrication for Industry 4.0 possible.”

Transformation is underway in the modern factory and new options exist for training digital factory workers. The New Collar Workforce is a guide to these changes for people working in

  • corporate leadership,
  • production management,
  • human resources,
  • economic development and
  • education.

Watch the book trailer!

  • Pages: 172
  • Images: Full color
  • Format: Softcover, Hardcover
  • Width: 6 in.
  • Height: 9 in.
  • Shipping & Handling: Product ships in 5 to 7 business days. Free shipping in the U.S. and Canada. All other countries, add $20.
  • ISBN: Softcover, 978-0-9988539-9-4; Hardcover, 978-0-9988539-8-7
  • Digital Download Terms: For your convenience, Photonics Media is providing the PDF version of this book without Digital Rights Management (DRM) software applied, which allows you to access the PDF on any device you own for your personal, noncommercial use. Posting the PDF publicly or transmitting it to others is strictly prohibited.

About the Author
Sarah Boisvert has more than 30 years of experience in the design, development and... more about Sarah Boisvert

 Praise for The New Collar Workforce

“The New Collar Workforce” is an excellent deconstruction of the traditional manufacturing landscape and provides a hopeful framework for its future. I have over 30 years in digital and lean manufacturing, having cut my teeth in the Automotive industry. When I started in the ‘80s, there were armies of skilled tradespeople driving the powerful manufacturing sector. Today almost all of those factories are shuttered, and with them, the economic engine that fueled growth in the US for over 4 decades.

With all eyes on the tech sector, automation, machine intelligence, and digital fabrication, the future of manufacturing seems immutable. Behemoth dark factories, fully automated and self-sustaining, churning out millions of widgets for purchase seems the default. Yet the author deftly points out the lifelong symbiotic relationship that humans have had with automation, showing that time and again machines have done their best work when they have simply been tasked with the most dangerous, repetitive work. In this new future, the human element is critical too. Software and hardware costs are plummeting, CAD and CAM software and equipment has gone from hundreds of thousands of dollars to just a few hundred or even free with many top CAD programs today.

The author lays out how the New Collar Worker will integrate with the technology to have job satisfaction and value, while still fully utilizing the production gains from a more automated workplace. The global manufacturing workforce is perfectly positioned to energize this new 4.0 world, provided that we understand the true direction of manufacturing and the real skill set needed to flourish in this new environment.

Randy Wolf

“The New Collar Workforce” is a book all parents, educators, business leaders and politicians should read. It is a starting guide for anyone who wants to understand the new options that exist for STEM education. Sarah Boisvert weaves engaging stories with clear use cases to spark your imagination. Add this to your everyday curriculum today.

Matthew Brown
Producer of the Aft.Dat podcast

In her book “The New Collar Workforce: An Insider’s Guide to Making Impactful Change in Manufacturing and Training,” author Sarah Boisvert has created a guidebook. Clear and concise, with plenty of case studies and impactful stories, this guidebook provides the blueprint on how to identify, develop and implement new training strategies for the next generation of skilled workers. Regardless of one’s role in the future of work movement: policymaker, administration, education or industry, this book is a great resource.

Guillermo Tilley
Garcia Street Books
Santa Fe, NM

“The New Collar Workforce” is a must-read for anyone interested in manufacturing. Sarah's extensive experience in the matter, in addition to her research, makes this book an amazing resource. I have been in Additive Manufacturing for the last 8 years, and yet, I’ve learned a lot from this book.

Sarah's writing style makes all the developed concepts very understandable and clear. Not only was it very informative, it also was a pleasure reading
“The New Collar Workforce.” I recommend it without any hesitation.

Nora Toure
VP, Strategy Ivaldi Group
Founder, Women in 3D Printing

Sarah Boisvert’s well researched and documented book, “The New Collar Workforce”, bolsters the case for educational reform, especially at our high schools and community colleges. In this aptly named and ground breaking book, she provides crucial insights on the work skills that are in demand today. The founder of Fab Lab Hub, part of the MIT-based Fab Lab Network, provides an excellent road map to the future of manufacturing, telling readers that new collar jobs that bridge blue collar and the engineering workforce — digital fabrication, laser machining, 3D printing — are where the biggest opportunities lie for today’s graduates.

Businesses, she says, must embrace and accelerate change. They have to innovate, be supportive and invest in problem based learning, apprenticeships and in-house workforce training programs. Boisvert, who writes with clarity, perception and authenticity, ends her book with the inescapable need for manufacturing companies to make the transition to new collar jobs swiftly. Their survival, she notes, depends on it.

Greg Byrnes
Executive Director
New Mexico Biotechnology & Biomedical Association

In “The New Collar Workforce”, Sarah does a wonderful job of clarifying the relevance and importance of the global shift that is occurring in the workforce today, and waypoints to observe as industry 4.0 takes hold. We are experiencing an unprecedented increase in velocity and scope of change today, affecting entire ecosystems of manufacturing and production strategy. Radical thinking is needed, now more than ever, to bridge the skills gap that still exists at most manufacturing sites. The evolution of traditional blue-collar jobs into new digitally minded jobs that work symbiotically with robots and intelligent technology will be the key to exponential growth. “The New Collar Workforce” captures the challenges in a clear and evident way to help you understand and prepare your team for this exciting new era.

Bob Welsh
VP. Innovation Accelerator
Stanley Black & Decker - Global Tools & Storage

I read “The New Collar Workforce” with great interest because as CEO of a laser material processing company in a previous life I had lived it. Education and workforce was the cornerstone of my company. As I read the book, there was not a page that I did not mark or make a note on. Every paragraph is filled with “tribal knowledge” and wisdom defining workforce needs in the 21stcentury. Every high tech company should have at least one copy. A most timely and much needed resource!

Dr. Larry R. Dosser

The rapidly emerging convergence of automation, 3D printing and data analytics is transforming modern manufacturing and will have significant economic and national security implications for the United States. Sarah Boisvert’s insights on the importance of the “New Collar Workforce” skills that are needed to meet this evolving and imminent future must be addressed strategically by vocational schools, universities, small startups and large corporations to ensure the US becomes more competitive in this key area.

Ross E. Muenchausen
Richard P. Feynman Engineering Innovation Fellow
Los Alamos National Lab

Sarah Boisvert’s “The New Collar Workforce” is a spot-on actual view of the present situation of manufacturing in the U.S. The link from traditional manufacturing to “Industry 4.0,” in combination with the unique systematic and technological (e.g. additive manufacturing) competence of institutions like FABLAB/ MIT, paves the road to the future. If you have anything to do with manufacturing in the U.S., you will benefit greatly from this sharp, condensed, actual and comprehensive analysis!

Professor Dr. Reinhart Poprawe
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT
RWTH Aachen University – Chair of Laser Technology

A very thorough survey of major trends in manufacturing that require skills and knowledge explained and illustrated in the text which constitute the elements for a "new collar" workforce in advanced manufacturing. The book couples this useful information with insights into how a global network of "fab labs" and maker spaces are contributing to the development of this 21st century workforce in very DIY ways, supplemented with entrepreneurial endeavors.

Neil Didriksen
Chairman of the Board
Open Works, Baltimore


Businesseducation3d printingmanufacturingtrainingjobscareersPotomac Photonicsworkforce educationdigital fabricationhiringnew collar workforcedigital factorytechnology careerslean manufacturingeconomic developmentlaser additive manufacturingFab LabFab Lab Hubworkforce training