Blue Collar Workers Hurt by Bad Image

Blue Collar workers have, for many years, been viewed in a very negative light by the rest of the public.

While we know how hard each of you all work and how unjustified/unfair the reputation many workers receive is, there is no arguing it does unfortunately exist.

According to the CEO of Waldorp Mechanical Services, Bill Caldwell, the negative public image of blue collar professions as grubby, dirty work with a lack of any financial benefits or career progression is not helped by those within the industry.

Caldwell believes while the image is not truly representative of the hardworking nature of blue collar workers, he also thinks more needs to be done by those within the industry to change the public’s perception.

“We do have a very poor industry image,” Caldwell said

“In the industry, we have to shoulder a lot of the blame for that image because we have not done enough to change it.”

The conversation began as part of a panel discussion held in Charlotte, North Carolina at the end of last year where influential figures within the construction industry came together to address many of the current and future challenges facing blue collar workers in the USA.

Chairman of Clemson’s construction science and management program, Roger Liska, also spoke about the lack of public knowledge towards the true nature of the construction industry.

Liska argued much of the judgment of blue collar work is unfair, those higher figures in the industry could do more to change it as it will also only broaden the already wide skills gap.

“The impression is that it is a blue-collar job, not a business job, and they don’t think of things like project management or even leadership… they really don’t get a complete picture,” Liska said

“What we hear from students transferring into our programs is that students never even knew the program was around.”

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It is this negative image which Liska believes has directly resulted in a shortage of skilled workers across the country.

President of BE&K Building Group, Mac Carpenter, said the construction is a risky business and brings about a whole different set of challenges for workers looking to be a part of the workforce.

The main issues Carpenter was vocal about were the challenge of maintaining a work/life balance, the rising costs of materials and the unsteady nature of the industry.

“What I see today is people looking for the work/life balance,” Carpenter said

“You might have a big project… and that makes people uproot themselves personally or their family and that is hard for people to do.

“You have tougher contracts and owners are trying to put more and more risk, even beyond reason on the construction company.

“Owners also demand faster schedules and the margins for work are becoming borderline profitable to a company.

“Unfortunately, contractors are accepting those parameters and eventually it is going to blow up. It really can’t compress anymore.”

So, will it ever get better? And what are the solutions to these problems?

We’d love to hear what you think about this, so make sure you tell us below.

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