Give Me Physical Work Over a Desk Job Any Day - Part II
Why "Blue Collar" Work?
In the first part of this article series, Give Me Physical Work Over a Desk Job Any Day, I wrote of the numerous reasons why white collar professions are on the decline. I have come to the conclusion that better opportunities rest in what we consider "traditional blue collar work." Here are the reasons why I feel blue collar work is beneficial to a human being in these tumultuous times:
Health (both mental and physical): It's ironic that blue collar work could now arguably be considered better for both the health physically and mentally of the individual compared to white collar work. Blue collar work was once upon a time regarded as dangerous and intoxicating to a person's health. However, a lot has changed today. Technological advances have made blue collar work much safer than at the times of your grandparents, while still keeping the advantages to your health that good quality exercise provides.
Making a living doing physical labour also accompanies you better if you prefer doing solitary activities during your free time. For example, I like to read, write, and play the occasional video game. Manual labour better suits a person with my hobby sets because my work efficiently makes good use of my time. My labour breaks two birds with one stone because I earn money while staying physically fit at the same time. I don't need to schedule time for the gym. I don't need to plan a daily walk or jog. I'm tired, but in a good way, because after a hard day's work I can kick back and write some articles on Hubpages.
Contrast the health benefits of blue collar work to that to the "white collar" job I'm stuck with currently. White collar work involves long hours sitting in front of a computer. I have to find the time to get in some much needed physical exercise. Time I don't always have. To make matters worse, my hobbies start to become like chores. I simply spend too much time in front of the computer. So much so that I can feel my eyes starting to turn red and bloodshot. During my off time, I have to for both the sake of my physical and mental health, simply spend time away from the computer. That means less writing, reading and video games. It's for this reason you're seeing me writing less Hubs. It's for this reason my finished novel is collecting dust and not being edited as expediently as I hoped. My body just starts to break down at the prospect of spending 16+ hours a day in front of a computer.
Getting a white collar job means that for the sake of balance, your hobbies should probably be of the more social and physical nature. Only one problem, I was never a party animal, nor ever a jock. Besides, there's only so much you can do going outside at night on a work day. Contrast that to the prospect of having a blue collar job, where my physical and social stimulus is already being met, leaving me all hours of the night to pursue my hobbies that quite often involve using computers in some way or another.
Money: What do you call a job that nobody wants to do, but is absolutely necessary? Opportunity. What do you call a job nobody wants to do, but they put up with it anyway? McDonald's. What do you call a job everyone wants to do and is absolutely necessary? A fantasy. What do you call a job everyone wants to do but is unnecessary? Welfare. Whether you're collecting the dole or living it high on Wall Street, it's welfare either way.
The first or second question applies to most blue collar work. The third or fourth question applies to all white collar work. You want to find yourself nested in the first question, because that's where the money is to be made. If you get a job nobody wants to do, yet large sums of people can tolerate it, you're sentencing yourself to a minimum wage. If you can find a job nobody wants to do yet is intolerable to the majority of the populace, you have it made. That's why Wal-Mart workers make little yet garbage men make a lot of money, despite both coming across as seemingly undesirable jobs. It's called supply and demands. Often the curves, edges, and spikes of the graph that makes up supply and demand is emotional rather than scientific. If you want to get ahead in the blue collar world by following the money, understand that logic and reason will betray you. You never play your cards based on your own emotions, but you certainly play your cards based on the emotions of others.
Now, maybe you might be one of those lucky people to benefit from the welfare state and get a plum white collar job rather than subsisting on food stamps. However, depending on your last name and social networks, I wouldn't be counting on that. . .
Mind: Haven't you noticed that physical jobs are starting to become more and more artistic, strategic, and conceptual, while white collar jobs are becoming mere corporate fluff?
It goes without saying that you can't "bullshit your way" out of blue collar work. If someone tries to bullshit their way up the ranks doing blue collar work, "accidents" are prone to happen, and they'll be quickly exposed. This makes blue collar work more authentic than white collar work, and thus more mindful. In compariosn to white collar work; where many people decieve, fool, and pretend their way forward.
This also has the added benefit of making those around you who do blue collar work more competent. Blue collar work has less exploits and loopholes available, thus the work is satisfyingly meritocratic in nature.
Transitioning to Blue Collar Work: Attitudes and Barriers
Now, if I finally have you convinced blue collar work is the promised land, understand that the journey is a lot harder than it seems. People will view your choices with skepticism. Your family and friends may hand you awkward stares if you tell them you're pursuing a blue collar career.
I'm afraid the stigma against blue collar work even transcends too many employers, especially if the employer is a baby boomer, which are the demographic most blue collar employers are populated. They will look at any "kid" with suspicion who has a "white collar background." They'll be wondering why "someone like you wants to do this work?" Of course, I gladly answer that question with the numerous points I listed in this Hub, but if the background doesn't match and the doubt is omnipresent, you'll simply not get hired no matter how flawlessly you delivered the interview.
To make matters worse, most trades now require going to "trade schools," which are often a complete joke. In most cases, these colleges are indifferent to a conventional bachelor's degree. The curriculum is largely theoretical and exams based. What you learn has very little, if any, practical benefit on the job. The schools are often privately owned and can be quite pricey. They have done away with the traditional apprenticeship system that worked best. Most of these colleges were created by white collar bureaucrats and/or politicians who don't have the faintest clue. Unfortunately, because of humanity's unhealthy obsession with credentialism, you're due to many years of white collar like hell until you're finally granted the chance to work in the blue collar world. As I explained in my college bubble article, the creation of trade schools may have the terrible side effect of filtering out the young people best suited for trade work. Let the expert paper pushers have their colleges and white collar jobs. I don't see why they should have a monopoly on blue collar work as well.
Employers need to be informed and understand that often these college degrees have little or no practical value, especially in the blue collar world. Employers would be much better off hiring an apprentice, even if at first it's seemingly more expensive. After all, how many employers in blue collar fields had to go to college before they could get started? My guess is not too many, and it shouldn't be any different for my generation. There's no substitute for experience.
There are a few ways to circumvent the two to three years of white collar college purgatory if you wish to transition to blue collar work. I suppose you could start your own business, however that's difficult without any prior practical experience. You could also try, in the mean time, working your white collar job to support yourself, while volunteering on the side with a prospective employer in a blue collar field at no cost to the employer. This would hopefully alleviate any reservations an employer has up front regarding costs. This is the option I'm currently researching in my spare time. However, depending on your white collar schedule, this could prove difficult. In addition, if you read my article Bait and Switch: Never Accept Low Pay, I have my own reservations about working for free. Yes, it's a learning experience and arguably training, but at the end of the day, I'm doing at least some work that should be paid for accordingly.
Finally, it could potentially prove worthy moving into a country such as Germany (and/or some parts of the United States) that still value the old apprenticeship models.
On Changing Attitudes. . .
I hope my last few articles changed some of your attitudes toward blue collar work. I hope that you're now seeing a new world outside the conventional box. I hope you've found respect toward people who do blue collar work as a living, and perhaps more important, have an understanding for those who wish to transition into blue collar work but face unnecessary societal and attitudinal barriers.
At the end of the day, I don't see Steve Forbes, Bill Gates or Barrack Obama ever willing to pick up the trash or fix a leaky toilet, but I do see them willing to pay whatever it takes to get the job done as quickly as possible and at their convenience.
-Donovan D. Westhaver