The term “Blue-Collar” was initially used for manual workers involved in trade jobs in 1924. In those days, the industrial and manual workers used to wear durable clothes that could withstand wear and tear during work. Blue denim was most commonly worn by workers who were involved in work that required physical labor. This was major because the blue color helped in hiding the dirt and other wear and tear on the clothing and helped them appear cleaner.  

Blue-collar worker refers to the members who perform physical labor and work on hourly-wages. They may involve both skilled and unskilled labor. Historically, the term blue-collar worker has heavy stereotypes associated with it. The prevalent perspectives dictate that blue-collar workers require no skill, ability, or education to obtain a better, more qualified job. Contrary to the stereotypes, in the USA, most blue-collar workers used to take pride in their job. But, in a country like India, where most people involved in doing physical labor are the ones who do it out of their need and not their choice, blue-collar jobs still have a large-scale stigma attached to them. Entry-level blue-collar jobs involve the following characteristics:

  1. Working Environment: The job opportunity is mechanical, requires physical work to be done, in an environment outside of the corporate offices.
  2. Education: Requires no formal education or degree. The drawback is that the workers can be easily replaced.
  3. Upskilling and Training: The workers don’t need prior experience, they can be trained on the job.

Blue-Collar Jobs in India:

Post lockdown, the demand for the blue-collar workforce has been on a constant rise. This is the result of the rise in demand for everyday services in urban areas. From carpentry work to delivering appliances and food, and helping with home maintenance, the blue-collar segment is growing rapidly. In India, the majority of the blue-collar workforce belongs to the villages and rural areas. Due to poor working conditions and wages, these workers prefer migrating to urban areas in search of better working opportunities with higher wages. Due to the characteristics of an entry-level blue-collar job, and the stigma attached with blue-collar workers, the workers can be replaced easily, thus making blue-collar hiring in India very crucial. Blue-collar workers are underpaid, overworked, and get no benefits with the job. This scenario, however, is slowly changing. In a report released by ‘BetterPlace’, it is estimated that out of 21 lakh jobs across verticals in 2019-2020, entry-level blue-collar jobs accounted for over 14 lakh jobs.

Blue-collar job categories in India involve the following:

  1. Technical Operators: This involves computer repair technicians, nuclear technicians, auto mechanics, etc.
  2. Operators: This involves gas plant operators, train operators, power plant operators, etc.
  3. Skilled Laborers: This involves plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.
  4. Unskilled Laborers: This involves janitors, warehouse workers, construction workers, etc.

Future of Blue-Collar workers in India:

Blue-collar workers are aware of the ground reality of the industry as they are the ones involved in manual labor. It is essential that the blue-collar hiring carried out by any company brings skilled and talented workers on board. The quality of the work, managing tricky situations, fulfilling the deadlines, and handling crises, all can be achieved if the blue-collar workers are skilled. For any company to operate smoothly and efficiently, the backbone of the company must be capable and proficient. Holistically speaking, blue-collar workers play a vital role in building up a nation’s economy, and hence it is important to realize the necessity for upskilling blue-collar workers in our country.

The sectors with the most potential for entry-level blue-collar jobs in India include:

  • Online Service Providers: This sector involves product-retailing platforms, food delivery, home maintenance, etc.
  • Startups: There were approximately 55,000 registered startups in 2020. Startups provide the best opportunity for blue-collar hiring.
  • Multi-National Companies (MNCs): MNCs help in creating demand for blue-collar workers. They include sectors like automobile, FMCGs, manufacturing, etc.
  • Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): In India, MSMEs are growing at a rapid rate. MSMEs in India are providing working opportunities to more than 11 crore people, including blue-collar workers.

Companies in India are looking forward to professionally engaging the blue-collar workforce. The demand for skilled blue-collar workers is steadily increasing. As the Indian economy makes effort to move from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial economy, blue-collar workers are set to shoulder more responsibilities. There is a need to increase vocational training that combines job portal development to provide efficient blue-collar hiring solutions. The future concerning the blue-collar workforce looks bright.

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