Go Blue With Your Career in 2019! | Articles & Tips | WNYJobs.com | Rochester

 

 

 

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 Go Blue With Your Career in 2019!

By Joe Stein

Over the years, I have not kept a secret my belief that we tend to completely overemphasize the value of a college education and professional/office positions at the expense of “blue-collar” type of jobs. If you are wondering, the term “blue-collar” was created decades ago due to these positions often being assigned a uniform and usually blue in color.
You have probably read/heard in the news that the economy and the job market have been pretty strong over the last several years. Nationally, unemployment has been hitting lows not found for many years, with job openings (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) topping six million for five months in a row (a record). “Blue” positions consist of a large portion of these national openings, perhaps as many as 40-50% of them with manufacturing being particularly impacted by unfilled jobs.
Unfortunately, one of the first and hardest hurdle to overcome in “going blue” is the stigma attached to these professions. If you are a High School Junior or Senior plotting your next move, you are probably being inundated with advice from friends and family members. All of their suggestions probably involve college or, to a lesser degree, the military. Similarly, there are many recent college graduates who are finding it difficult to find work in overcrowded fields such as Marketing, Communication, Psychology, and Sociology, etc. Because of this, they need to make a decision regarding whether to change career paths. Many of these people could find stable and meaningful work by changing direction and moving towards learning a skill associated with a “blue-collar” position. It should be noted that often the biggest obstacle faced is the parents of the job seeker. Whether it is because they want their child to be “better than they are”, or they don’t want to have to tell others that their child is not in a professional position, the parents, can inadvertently hold back the progression of their child. I know I have many readers who are parents and I only ask them to consider whether the guidance they are providing their child is in his//her long-term best interest.
One of the many positives of going blue is that you often have a path for getting your foot in the door with a company. For professional positions, employers usually want you to have some experience, even for entry-level positions. This is because of the large pool of candidates which creates a reluctance to spend the time and money to train people. The struggle to fill “blue-collar” jobs has caused employers to adjust their expectations for these roles, as they are often willing to train individuals who they deem to be a good fit.
Deciding to go blue out of high school can also be very beneficial for your savings account. While your peers are in college racking up large student debt (especially if they are living on campus, out of the area), you will be in either a much less expensive trade school or in a paid apprenticeship. While they are saddled with large debt and probably struggling to get by, you are in a position to save money, start your 401k, buy a house, etc.
A common misconception for people is that if you work a blue-collar job, you will always make less money than those in a professional role. Nothing can be further from the truth. A quick online compensation search will outline for you how a comfortable living can be made as a repair technician or mechanic, or manufacturing machine operator.
Another positive factor in working a blue-collar job is your work/life balance. While a blue-collar job will almost always be paid hourly and subject to overtime (OT), when the work is busy, once you are done…you are done. You usually can’t take your work home with you. A professional person is often exempt from OT pay and becomes accustomed to working nights and weekends to keep up with e-mail and paperwork. They usually find that they never really turn off the job. It is (therefore) very surprising to me, given how much our younger generation values off-time, that there is not more interest in these “blue” roles.
One of the biggest challenges faced in the U.S. economy is how will we be able to fill our blue-collar positions. While colleges swell with applicants and government programs drive people to higher education, we have manufacturing, warehousing, technician, etc. positions that remain unfilled due to lack of interest. If you are wondering whether going to college is right for you, or you have graduated but don’t seem to be able to land a position in your chosen field, perhaps 2019 is the year for you to “go blue”.
As always, best of luck in your job search!