March 30, 2020 • Working in the Trades
American Attitudes Towards Blue-Collar Work Are A Threat To Our Future
We all know the image of the dystopian future of the American workforce: robots, in droves, take all the jobs that hardworking, real people have always had, the poverty level skyrockets, and the human race as we know it, devolves. Sometimes, the robots even turn on humans and try to kill them all. While frightening and sellable, studies suggest it isn’t realistic.
What is real, though, is the stigmatization of American blue-collar jobs and that is much more scary for the modern-day workforce than the aforementioned thriller movie plot.
Nick Pinchuk, CEO of Snap-On, is especially concerned about the future of blue-collar jobs, because according to him, nobody wants to do them. “People view these jobs as welders or mechanics as the consolation jobs of our society,” he says. “These jobs are not a consolation prize.”
He also discredits the widely-believed myth that individuals with a four-year degree earn more than those without. The number is “skewed,” he says, because so many high-earning people, like businessman Warren Buffett, are factors. For the average college graduate, the difference may not be so much. But people still want to earn that degree, even if it means absolutely nothing financially.
This negative view of the blue-collar workplace is not an issue outside of the United States. In places like Europe and Asia, students are encouraged and even tracked to enter these types of jobs very early. But here, young people are encouraged to go to college, regardless of their academic prowess. And it’s no secret; the fact that standardized testing even exists places value on those who meet this level of achievement. Those who don’t strive to reach it are met with scorn. Dare I say it, school may not be for everybody. And for those for whom it is not, entering a trade field will ensure success.
Is this so wrong? Pinchuk doesn’t think so, and he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is. Snap-On has “endorsed 46 different technical curricula” to inspire more people to join the blue-collar workforce. With programs designed to certify individuals with the proper credentials, Pinchuk hopes others realize jobs in manufacturing “[are] not dark, dumb and dirty, but bright and smart and you have to be pretty capable to work there.” He worries that if we continue to devalue the blue-collar system, the 500,000 already-unfilled positions will remain that way and others will join them.
“We need to do what we do well, and we sell. These are great careers,” he says. And he is correct. In our real dystopian society, robots aren’t the cause of harm. People are.
So let’s take a second to think about the real dystopian future – the one in which blue-collar jobs go unfilled:
- New houses aren’t built, so families can’t afford a place of their own.
- Electrical issues go unsolved, resulting in fires or unlit homes.
- Drains can’t be cleared, toilets overflow (yikes).
- The wait time and price for house improvements from masonry to carpentry skyrockets.
Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute projected that between 2018 and 2028 2.4 million manufacturing jobs would go unfilled leaving an estimated $2.5 trillion negative economic impact in the U.S. This doesn’t need to be the case. We just need to do an adequate job of telling our kids the truth about blue-collar jobs.
- How about the fact that there are plenty of blue-collar jobs where you can make more than $100,000?
- How about that you can skip college and earn while you learn?
- How about the massive job openings available today in these fields, driving up wages?
The future of blue-collar work is bright, if we all do our part. Take the next step by signing up for my email list or checking out a copy of Blue Collar Cash.