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5 Myths about Blue Collar Employees Even plumbers, electricians, and cooks depend on their creative abilities and reasoning to do their respective jobs and this is what we need to know

By Pravin Agarwala

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Blue collar jobs initially meant roles that required manual labour. Today, the definition has broadened to include our Zomato and Swiggy delivery executives, Uber and Ola drivers, UrbanClap and HouseJoy personnel, Rapido Captains, Yulu and Bounce helpers, and others.

Why are Blue Collar Employees important?

Have you ever had one of those days when the maid decides to take the day off, when your food delivery app decides to assign one delivery executive for multiple orders, or when you just can't seem to find transport using your app? Do your plans go somewhat off-the-rails then? Chances are, they do. Our productivity has soared because we can get things done with the tap of a button and so, organisations that provide the above blue collar services have made a killing. In fact, the sector is set to grow due to higher demand and extremely low supply.

However, while BCEs provide services just like anyone else, they are not recognised or valued in the same way that white collar employees are. If society is to continue on its path of progress, it is essential that we recognise and commend those who weave its present fabric. Let's start by busting a few myths that inhabit the world of Blue Collar Employees.

Myth #1: "They are not really intelligent, so this is all they can do."

Hello, Prejudice! We meet again. The "unintelligent' tag that goes with blue collar jobs is largely due to the socio-economic background of most blue collar workers in India. They are generally from a financially disadvantaged background and, usually, not college-educated. So, they must be unintelligent. Note sarcasm.

As we now know, intelligence can be divided into 9 types. Let's take people skills for example and look at Interpersonal Intelligence. The next time you step out to dine, keep an eye out for food delivery executives. You will notice them striking up conversations at restaurants to build lasting relationships with people at the counter or in the kitchen. They are able to read and empathise with people's moods and know just what to say and when to say it. This works in their favour because they get preference when there is a rush. Gardeners, on the other hand, tend to have Naturalistic Intelligence.

If nothing else, a person's capability can be deduced from their decision-making skills. A driver has to put this skill to the test nearly everyday, responding on-the-go to traffic fluctuations, while security guards have to depend on their observation skills when allowing visitors or strangers to enter the premises. Even plumbers, electricians, and cooks depend on their creative abilities and reasoning to do their respective jobs.

Myth #2: "They are a dime a dozen and hence, replaceable."

Uh...no. We don't have enough people in the sector for them to be replaceable, unlike people in white collar jobs. With a whole generation's mass exodus to office jobs, the essential blue collar roles have been left vacant. Though millennials are considering the blue collar sector, we are still facing a shortage in India. In addition, most blue collar roles cannot be filled by AI solutions anytime soon.

"The job market of the future will consist of those jobs that robots cannot perform. Our blue-collar work is pattern recognition, making sense of what you see. Gardeners will still have jobs because every garden is different. The same goes for construction workers. The losers are white-collar workers, low-level accountants, brokers, and agents." - Michio Kaku, Physicist

Myth #3: "They don't add value to society or our lives."

"Blue collar and white collar are two sides of the same coin, and as soon as we view one as more valuable than the other, we'll have infrastructure that falls down, we'll have a skills gap." -Mike Rowe

Life is somewhat like a game of football. You might be the one scoring the goal, but you can very rarely do it without an assist. Those in white collar jobs are able to do what they do with ease because blue collar employees work behind the scenes to get the foundation right - be it constructing buildings, fixing your house or appliances, delivering food to your doorstep, or just driving you from place to place. Of course, that's not all they do. Many can (and do) run their own businesses, but that's an article for another day.

Myth #4: "Women don't belong here."

Can women ride bikes and cars? Yes.

Can women learn martial arts to become formidable security guards? Yes.

Can women fix things? A resounding yes.

Then they definitely qualify for blue collar gigs. Blue collar jobs, like most jobs, have been dominated by men. An increasing number of women have been entering the mainstream white-collar workforce over the past few decades. Why should they be deprived of blue collar opportunities that can empower them? Besides, we need the extra personnel.

Recently, Uber is one of the few companies to have realised the potential of women in blue collar jobs. A small change in their UI speaks of a big change in mindset.

Myth #5: "They don't dream the dreams we do"

This has probably got to be one of the most ignorant assumptions one can make about not just blue collar workers, but everyone. The desire for stability, the success of offspring, and security - financial, emotional, and social - is inherent in any human being.

Take a minute out of your day and ask your security guard why he does what he does or strikes up a conversation with your housekeeper or cook. Chances are that they are struggling with issues similar to your own. Zomato is one of the few organisations that understand this and if you pay attention to your order, you'll notice that they share their delivery executive's wishlist and dreams with you!

At the end of the day, a blue collar job is a job like any other - it requires skill, dedication, endurance, recognition from employers, and creativity. It pays well, too. In fact, it is set to be far more lucrative now, primarily due to an insufficient number of employees. This is a simple case of market forces at work. Demand is high, supply is low - and success in the marketplace is easier to achieve if you're actually filling a gap. With people flocking to white-collar jobs, blue-collar employees do just that - fill an all-too-wide gap in the existing job world.

Pravin Agarwala

Co founder CEO, BetterPlace

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