Blue Collar Jobs Require Advanced TrainingBy Christiane Soto,

Manufacturing jobs in this country are increasingly requiring “white-collar” credentials.  Processes are becoming more high-tech, markets are becoming more international, and workers need more skills. Lasers, robotics and computer numeric-control tools are now all standard equipment on the factory floor.  In addition, applicants must show that they have

  • The ability to work on teams
  • The ability to communicate effectively across the entire workforce.
  • The capacity to learn highly technical material and then apply that knowledge to other areas.
  • The ability to adapt to change
  • The capability to work with less supervisory oversight.

Low-skilled jobs are simply no longer in high demand.  Technology and low barriers of entry (most everyone can stock a shelf) have replaced manpower.      

However, many workers do not have the skills needed to land the many, many well-paying available manufacturing and skilled trades jobs.  Many of these jobs are now STEM jobs – calling for science, technology, engineering and/or math knowledge – and require either a degree or advanced vocational training.

In the 2011 Manufacturing Institute’s Skills Gap Report, manufacturers reported that approximately 5% of their jobs remained unfilled due to a lack of unskilled available workers.   This means that approximately 600,000 well-paying “blue-collar” jobs were unfilled in 2012.  Employers continue to struggle finding skilled machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, technicians, etc.

These middle class jobs are being redefined.  In order to make a comfortable wage, workers must upgrade their skillsets and learn a wider range of skills.  Flexibility is the key.  After years of process redesign and automation, manufacturers want workers who can work in a variety of areas and have the right skillsets to do so.

So what can you do to “bump up” your skillset and make yourself more marketable?

1)      Manage your expectations.  Lower-level, task-oriented jobs are no longer going to pay a comfortable wage.  In order to succeed, you are going to have to embrace change and constantly look for opportunities to learn and grow, even if you are currently employed.

2)      Throw the stereotypes in the trash.  Not all good jobs are the result of a four year degree.  There are many challenging, lucrative and exciting job opportunities that exist in the “blue-collar” workforce.  According to Mike Rowe, they showed not be viewed as some type of vocational consolation prize.

3)      Volunteer.  Volunteers have to do more with less, and there is no greater environment to learn how to problem-solve, lead and communicate.

4)      Think outside the box.

  1. Updating your skills does not necessarily mean spending a lot of money.  Look for less expensive alternatives, such as those offered by your state’s workforce commission or department of labor.
  2. Many community colleges offer “career training” or “continuing education” or “lifelong learning” programs to help you develop the skills needed to land a lucrative job in the skilled trades.  Do a little investigating and find the program that fits you best.
  3. Investigate temporary work.  Many employers are picky; they only want workers with specific skills, but are willing to take on temporary workers to test fit.  Temporary work remains one of the best ways to get your foot in the door with a local employer.

Snelling can help too.  We place workers every day all over this country.  We know what industries are hiring, and we know what skills are in demand.  We have worked with employers in your hometown; we know where the jobs are, and we know what skills you need to obtain them.  To get started today, register on our website, and find your local Snelling office.  Then look through all of our open jobs.  If you find one that you are interested in, apply.  We would love to talk to you.