Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blue Collar vs White Collar

This week's topic was my suggestion. Back in the day - the days of high school and college - there was a general thought that blue collar work somehow required less intelligence than white collar work. High school classes included things like welding, auto shop, machine shop and the like. People interested in those things had a path to careers in those fields. Other popular blue collar careers were in auto assembly, the gas and electric company and the phone company as well as law enforcement.

In my case my first choice was law enforcement but alas my wife simply stated if I became a cop she would divorce me. She was not prepared to live life wondering if I'd come home alive on any given day. So I started looking for a job in white collar fields with one huge problem - I had no passion for anything available to me. My BA made consisting being a lawyer something to consider but that was no more appealing to me than was repossessing mobile homes - a job I actually held for a couple of years.

Entry level white collar jobs paid quite a bit less than blue collar jobs but they still were relatively easy to fill. As the years progressed the selection of good blue collar jobs began to decline. Two local auto assembly plants closed down.
Good paying jobs still existed - garbage collectors made very good money for example but that career was somewhat unfairly disparaged. I played softball for years with a career garbage man and Bobby loved his well-paying job that had him home by 2PM every day.  My white collar jobs had me home daily 3-4 hours later at about half the pay.

In 1976 Lynn was offered a promotion and what seemed like a good job across the country in Connecticut so off we went. Talk about culture shock - LOL.  After a year on a different planet we jumped at the chance to go back to California - even though it was in LA.

 A while later, Lynn had had enough and resigned. To get back at her I was laid off a month later. Lynn moved back to the SF Bay Area with our newly born daughter and I started working at RadioShack. While not passionate, I did enjoy audio and the micro computer industry was just beginning. White collar lite at best.

Over the years blue collar jobs were still there but again often disparaged. It was not until a TV show - Dirty Jobs and its host Mike Rowe   went to bat for blue collar jobs that they began earning some respect. Check out this typical Mike Rowe commentary

Now in the age of millennials expectations are high and patience is low.Millennials seem to expect instant gratification in everything. Unfortunately, the world still does not work that way.  Perhaps that is why millennials move back home at such a high rate.

The auto industry has made a comeback as foreign companies0 like BMW, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagon and others build so many cars here. POTUS 45 would do well to consider that when he takes shots at foreign countries and companies over so-called trade deficits. And several old friends are absolute geniuses when it comes to auto customization - Rich Adkins and  Lyn/Del Schuler do amazing stuff.

Any young person that is not a computer genius would do well to do some research into the job market and not rule out a job in the trades. A rewarding life is out there for the serious job seeker.

Check my cohorts at their blogs - RamanaPravin and Ashok.


  1. Our situation is not much different. My own career took off into the white collar regions by sheer chance and a persistent mother who wanted me to study and acquire a degree. Had it not been for that, I would have probably ended up like my younger brother did, owning my own little garage or a tool shop or something similar. I would have made a great deal more money surely!

  2. The guys in my generation became involved in "shop" which involved woodworking, auto mechanics. They also had "future farmer" type activities available to them, actually raising animals. We girls had a Home Economic class, also classes preparing us to be secretaries, teachers or nurses. The last thing I wanted to be was a secretary, so naturally circumstances were such that my first job after college graduation was secretary which had nothing to do with my major. I had taken typing in high school as a skill I wanted to be able to personally use, but also would be a fall back ability that came in handy. I suppose the equivalent of typing now would be keyboarding -- having computer competency including, as I've read some say, knowing how to write code. There's much to be said for developing a skill(s) in addition to whatever a person's primary training no matter what color is your collar.