Many individuals who began as blue collar workers moved through the ranks to become managers, CEOs and owners of their companies.
Kelcy Warren, the billionaire owner of Energy Transfer and other energy related companies, began as a welder. He worked through the ranks at Sun Pipe in Texas and cultivated a strong work ethic that propelled him to high levels of success. He credits his beginnings as a welder with giving him the skills to create the life he now has. To many, this is a reminder that a strong work ethic can be the foundation for success.
The divide between blue and white collar workers has been the subject of books and movies for decades. In many people’s minds, white collar jobs are associated with the upper levels of society, while the lower classes are associated with blue collar fields.
It is just too easy to classify (or stereo-type) groups of people based on specific criteria, employees are still individuals.
There are several myths surrounding the mentality of blue vs. white collar workers that have led to mismanagement of training. Before establishing separate trainings for the white and blue collar workers in your organization, let me dispel some common myths.
Myth #1: Blue collar workers aren’t that interested in their jobs.
One of the more popular myths about blue collar workers implies that they aren’t interested in their job, but simply view it as a means to an end. While this may be true for some individuals (blue or white collar), it does not hold true for the majority of blue collar workers. In fact, the opposite is true: most blue collar workers take great pride in their job and work long, hard hours to ensure their job is done correctly.
Myth #2: White collar workers are more educated.
In recent years, the level of skill needed in most blue collar jobs has progressed in both difficulty and training necessary. As technological advances change the tools used in workplaces, blue collar workers have become highly skilled and knowledgeable. They often take hundreds of hours in certification courses, undergo extensive training and participate in apprenticeships and internships which are the equivalent to a college education. Changes in code, technology and competition all drive blue collar workers to continue to keep up-to-date with their skills even after their certification/license is achieved.
Myth #3: Blue collar workers make less money.
While the push for college education has increased, the demand for blue collar workers has begun to grow as well. In some fields, recent years have seen an increase of up to 20% in the need for skilled blue collar workers. As a result, some blue collar workers make more than their white collar counterparts. Fields such as welders, electricians, linemen and others can easily make six figure salaries.
While it is (too) easy to categorize employees based on their position or job, it is important to remember that employees are individuals. Within each group of workers, there are individuals who are driven to advance, individuals who are happy to remain in their current job and individuals who are simply biding their time until it is quitting time.
Regardless of the type of work that is being done, there are elements of employee training that apply to both white and blue collar jobs. With that in mind, it becomes clear that employees can benefit from training programs, regardless of the colour of their collar.
What type of training benefits employees?
Goal-setting. Teaching employees how to utilize goal-setting can help them achieve their dreams - no matter how big or small. With carefully crafted goals, employees at all levels can make progress both professionally and personally in a variety of areas.
Helping employees discover their natural skills can provide insight into other opportunities within an organization. It can help employers to correctly place employees and offer new directions for employees to take.
Teaching employees how to work together is essential in all types of work. Learning to cultivate an environment where everyone’s work is valued is critical. When each member of the team recognizes the importance of working together, it can create a positive work climate and lead to greater levels of success for the company.
When you are faced with providing training to a cross-section of employees, the experts at My Big Idea® can help. We create customized employee wellness training programs that allow each employee to find their strengths, leading to improved employee engagement and increasing corporate profitability.
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea®. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.