Job seekers with the right skill set can find a wealth of opportunities in the grey-collar sector. Demand for skilled trade workers in specialized career fields including healthcare, forestry, paralegal services, and manufacturing (among others) are expected to grow by nearly 50 percent, while the supply of qualified employees for these industries is expected to decrease about 12 percent, according to Manpower Group's Talent Shortage Survey.Employers continually struggle to find qualified applicants due to a lack of training.

Job growth in this sector presents a huge opportunity for career colleges that offer vocational training-especially since skilled trade employers are fighting against the stigmas of their industries, a problem they say is hampering their ability to meet an increased need for welders, construction workers, and other tradesmen. The stereotypes revolve around the idea that the jobs, many of which don't require a four-year degree, are less valuable than those that do.2 Getting students past these stigmas will not only help attract more students to your institution, but it will also help reduce the current and projected skills gap burdening the economy.

Ultimately, the goal for students is to have a stable income and a thriving career, both of which can be attained in grey-collar industries. Career colleges represent an opportunity to snag these high-demand jobs by providing students with the training they need to fill those positions. Start debunking the common myths and help gear your students toward a flourishing career within the grey-collar industry.

Myth #1: Grey collar jobs aren't financially lucrative

Truth: You don't have to be a white-collar worker to earn a good salary. Many grey-collar careers offer financial stability without the expense of costly four-year institutions. For example, salaries in the the rapidly growing nursing field average $55,000. With an expected growth rate of 22 percent by 2018, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, students who enroll now will be able to take full advantage of upcoming opportunities.3  

For those with a penchant for circuits, fuses, and watts, training for a career as an electrician is not only rewarding but also promising. Jobs for people who know how to install and maintain electrical systems are expected to grow by nearly 25 percent over the next several years.4 And, with a median salary of $49,840, gaining specialized certification in this field helps students get a jump-start on what's sure to be a competitive market.

Tip: Engage students and spread the word via social media. Post relevant information regarding job market statistics and potential earnings within the career fields your organization trains for. Soon, you'll be the source they turn to for career guidance.

Myth #2: Career colleges aren't "cool"

Truth: Career colleges are built on "cool." Flexible schedules, blended learning, and hands-on training enable students to break the molds of traditional learning. Additionally, since non-traditional students make up 71 percent of the enrolled undergraduate population, students are surrounded by a network of like-minded individuals who share a common goal: increasing opportunities for career success. Because most nontraditional undergrads are over age 25 and many have a full-time job and/or children, they are motivated by aspirations of increased educational credentials, job prospects, and career growth.

Tip: Help skeptical prospects see the value of enrolling in a career-focused program. Host an open house on campus, where they can gain inspiration from professors as well as other prospective students. For students doing their online research, include a section on your website for real-life testimonials and case studies. Encourage active alumni to share their experiences and talk about how life has changed by receiving specialized career training. Not only does this act as a motivational tool, it also gives prospective students peace of mind, knowing your organization has a positive track record. 

Myth #3: Employers only seek graduates of traditional four-year colleges

Truth: According to the ManpowerGroup survey, 49 percent of employers struggle to fill jobs due to lack of skills.Traditional colleges and universities offer general majors that can be so broad, they often skip detailed lessons necessary for specific trades. Lack of career-tailored training can make it difficult to get the most out of a degree program. Because career colleges are dedicated to teaching specific technical skills for various industries, employers benefit from hiring workers with hands-on, practical training that's specific to the industry. 

Tip: Build professional relationships between your academic institution and local hiring managers via social media networks like LinkedIn. By establishing a solid foundation of employer partnerships, you'll increase attendance at school career fairs which, in turn, helps students gain insight on local hiring opportunities.

Check out our infographic on growth in the Grey Collar job sector.

Resources: Photo; (1)Talent Shortage Survey - ManPower Group (2) Skilled Trades Fight 'Dirty Job' Stereotype; (3) Highest Paying 2-Year Degree Jobs in the US; (4) Electrician