Manuallabor, blue collar, job security.
Manuallabor involves physical work done by blue collar workers (alsoreferred to as trade workers) at an hourly wage. Although blue-collarworkers have been devalued over the last one century, they haveplayed a very critical role in building of nations. Whether skilledor unskilled, they have helped in the growth of manufacturing,construction, maintenance and the mining industries. Trade jobs aregenerally perceived as jobs for the lesser while the trade workersare on the other hand viewed as stupid. The number of students takingclasses on skilled trades both in Canada and the United States hasgreatly declined. Resultantly, thereis a wide gap between what students are being taught and the kinds ofjobs available and needed.
Thereis a lot of work to be done, but skilled labor is not available.Welders, plumbers, carpenters, paramedics, cosmetologists andmechanics play a vital role in the development of our communities andeconomies. Notably, vocational programs have been neglected and morestudents are being prepared to become knowledge workers resulting ina small number of trade workforce. Consequently, the number ofunemployed youth has risen to 8.5% compared to 5.8% for the workforceas a whole. Imagine the world without mechanics to repair and fix ourcars, welders to fix crumbling bridges or plumbers to repair lickingpipes.
Whilethe white collar jobs are characterized by working in an office,cubicle or other administrative settings, the blue collars jobsinvolve a lot of mobility and the work is done from outside in anopen environment. Before choosing a job, whether blue or whitecollar, one has to consider the benefits. The working environment,job security, balance, pay, and satisfaction. Even though the bluecollar work has been forsaken for insufficient value, according toAnderberg, manual laborers are considered to have more advantagescompared to the white collar workers. Due to more people turning to“knowledge work” the number of jobs in the skilled trades hasrisen. These jobs are characterized by good pay and security due tothe increased competition for their services.
Accordingto Lamacchia and Samberg, baby boomers are retiring fast and yetenough youths are not being trained to take their jobs (2). Parentsand educators need to encourage students to consider joining tradeschools since “they are cheaper and shorter, trade jobs arewell-paying, skilled trades cannot be out-sourced, there is a lot ofjobs for the taking and there is satisfaction with blue collar work”(Anderberg, "5 Benefits OfWorking In The Trades"). Furthermore, manual labor improveslearning. When more emphasis is put on grades, students will be lessengaged in hands-on work resulting in dull minds, boredom and a lossof interest in learning. On the other hand, keeping the studentsphysically active keeps them engaged in learning and the more theylearn, the more they will love to learn.
Inspite of loans being there to fund students pursuing white collarcareers, about 2/3 of the students are leaving college with debtsamounting to an average of 26,000 dollars per student. If abachelor`s degree is fully financed through loans, it is likely goingto cost 100,000- 150,000 dollars. On the other hand, learning tobecome a blue collar only takes a short time of about six months totwo years and can cost only forty thousand dollars if fully financedby student loans. This is a far large saving from pursuing the whitecollar careers. Additionally, before a college going studentgraduates and locates a job, a tradesman is already graduated,earning and gaining more skills at an early age.
Eventhough money is not a pivotal factor in choosing a career, it iscertainly indispensable. According to Anderberg, although the paylimit for the blue collar is lower than for white collar, the wealthywhite collar individuals represent a minuscule percentage of theworkforce.From a study of the Michigan State on blue collar work, the pay limitwas lower for blue-collar even though the median was high incomparison to white collar. Primarily, the pay limit for the bluecollar was 13 dollars to 34 dollars per hour, with a median of 21dollars. With other forms of professions, the pay limit was 8 dollarsto 39 dollars with a median of 16 dollars. With outstandingmanagerial skills, creativity, and a big vision, a tradesman can alsomove up the ladder and earn more salary just like in the white collarwork. Notably, blue collar workers are for extra hours of work doneunlike in white collar where the salary is constant.
Althoughcomplete job security does not exist, some jobs are more secure thanothers. Beyond good wages, manuallaborers enjoy excellent job security since tradesmen cannot beoutsourced like is the case of the information and technology sector.“According to Anderberg, the world without mechanics, electricians,plumbers, locksmiths and welders are inevitable.For example, when your car develops a mechanical problem, you willnot call a business consultant to fix the problem, you’ll call avehicle mechanic. The number of vacant jobs in the blue collar hasincreased in the recent years. Additionally, the number is expectedto further rise due to more jobs that are being created. Resultantly,there will be high demand for workers but the supply will be low.According to a study on the US workforce, the number of blue-collarworkers aged between 25 to 44 years compounds to 48 percent of thegeneral labor force with the blue collar occupying 46 percent. Butthe case is different with 45-54 age range where the blue collarmakes up 23 percent of the entire manpower and 32 percent of theskilled trades. Resultantly, more manual laborers are bound to retirein the next 15 years creating more job opportunities. “Blue-collarAmerica is both indispensable and will always be in demand”(Lamacchia & Samberg, 10).
Bluecollar entails doing tangible work. Being able to fix, repair orbuild things using your skills and abilities brings a feeling offulfillment and accomplishment unlike in white collar where tangibleresults are hard to find. According to Anderberg, manual work comeswith satisfaction and fulfillment since one is able to see and enjoythe fruit of their work.
Inconclusion, the blue collar industry offers challenging, lucrative,creative and an exciting career platform. It is time for educators,parents, and students to view the bright side of the blue collarworkforce and realize that success can also be accomplished in thisfield. This can be achieved by reintroducing vocational programs inschools and parents encouraging the students to take these programs.Resultantly, there will be an increase in the supply of manpower tocover the high demand for skilled trades.
Anderberg,Jeremy. “5 Benefits of Working in the Trades”. TheArt of Manliness. N.P.,2014. Web.9 Oct. 2016
Lamacchia,Joe and Bridget Samberg. BlueCollar & Proud of It.Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, 2009. Print.