who exactly is a blue-collar worker?
They’re security personnel manning the gates to your apartment. They’re the food delivery executives who zip across the city to deliver your extra-cheesy margherita pizza on time. They’re the ones in the salon industry who stay upright for hours on end ensuring you look presentable.
Blue-collar workers are everywhere; from ginormous industrial plants spread across thousands of acres, to taxis. The numbers keep swelling, and according to a recently published article by thenewsminute, 21 lakh new blue-collar jobs are likely to be introduced between March 2019 – January 2020.
With over 14 lakh jobs speculated in the gig economy, the article also highlights a worrying sign: attrition in most verticals ranges anywhere between 40% to 300%. The million-dollar question here is: why don’t blue-collar workers stick around for long?
There Can Be Several Reasons Behind The High Attrition Rate
It’s understood that the majority of blue-collar workers are millennials who aren’t too keen — to join or continue working in the blue-collar segment — largely due to the humiliation attached to labour-intensive work.
Apart from more millennials opting for higher studies to live out their white-collar dreams, parents too — somehow contribute to blue-collar attrition — as they favour their children working in a different sector.
But high attrition, according to managers, is due to the fact that someone else is offering a raise which can be as little as INR 500. As the previous generation of blue-collar workers hang up their boots, the skill gap is expected to widen.
And when you throw the high attrition rate into this mix, the situation looks worrisome. But, as an employer/HR, there are certain things you can do to tackle this issue. Here are 5 such strategies you can employ to sway millennials towards blue-collar jobs, or better yet, keep them from quitting.
Reward Them, Because They Deserve It
Blue-collar workers are mostly in the field, but they receive far less recognition and accolades for the work done. Situations of blue-collar workers being left out are all the more evident in organisations where strategic decisions are taken by the higher-ups without involving the former.
As an employer, you should do your best to merge both white-collar and blue-collar workers, and recognize the latter by assessing their contributions and promoting them to decision-making positions.
By doing this, you’re opening avenues for millennials to join blue-collar jobs as they’re lucrative. They start seeing that a blue-collar position can possibly result in a promotion or a hike with decision-making responsibilities.
Infuse Tech, Not to Replace But To Assist
There’s a reason why we call the millennials, the millennials. They made an entrance in the ‘90s, the same time when dot-com and computer boom came into the picture.
So, you see, they’re familiar with the internet, mobile tech, and social media — all the more reason for them to utilize these in their work and day-to-day lives. That said, they also know that automation can take over and replace them which puts the spotlight on one fundamental ask — job security.
Deny all you want but automation is real, and IT IS HAPPENING. Take driverless cars and delivery drones for example. They’re not perfect as of now, but going by what we’ve seen so far, a machine-takeover is not too far away.
As an employer, you need to empower with tech that empowers, not replaces blue-collar millennials. Provide cloud computing, traditional tools, mobile tech to your employees whilst educating them about the benefits of the same.
Upskill and/or Reskill
So what if the white-collars went to college — or received formal education — and the blue-collars didn’t?
Does that make the latter inferior? Is it the only parameter that makes them less intelligent than their counterparts? — NO!
Most think of intelligence as the amount of education received. It’s gauged in terms of academic excellence. But just think about it: an artsy potter is in no way inferior to, say, an IT engineer. Moreover, the same potter can also be a software engineering aspirant. Making a clay pot may not require coding skills, but it still demands design, math, sales and marketing skills.
As the employer who wants more millennials to ride the blue-collar wave, this is where you step in and wipe out the stigma that blue-collar jobs are labour-intensive. And this begins if you have a clear understanding of intelligence.
Another way to reel in millennials would be to provide clear opportunities that aid upskilling and reskilling. You could partner with academic institutions, or collaborate with online learning platforms to upskill blue-collar millennials and prepare them for real-work workplace challenges.
Educate Millennials About Blue-collar Prospects
You now know that blue-collar jobs are shrouded in scepticism. In reality, some blue-collar jobs actually draw more compensation than white-collar jobs. For instance, a search for delivery boy jobs in India with 1 year of experience yields a maximum salary of INR 40k.
In comparison, INR 30k pops up as the maximum salary offered to a nurse with equivalent experience.
What’s more, with a little more training/upskilling, a delivery boy executive — given the opportunities — can climb the upper echelons of the business hierarchy.
Blue-collar workers also spend much less than their counterparts. Now, you’d probably say that college has greater returns on investment. But this isn’t entirely true. Many students drop out of college, and a bachelor’s degree does come with its fair share of the emotional burden of debt and tuition fees.
Employers should be proactive in the local communities, school, college, and career fairs and teach the millennials about the blue-collar job benefits on offer: training opportunities, financial stability, flexibility, career growth, and upskilling for the future.
Compete, and Show What You Can Offer
Like it or not, but millennials are revered for job-hopping. Businesses must compete for entry blue-collar millennials. This means competitive salary packages, work flexibility, upskilling and career growth opportunities.
As mentioned earlier, educating the millennials about the merits of blue-collar jobs will take time. It’s not only you who has to contribute but also the entire society. The stigma needs to stop and people need to realize that blue-collar jobs are like any other: they offer excellent growth and opportunities besides contributing to the entire society in a meaningful way.
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