That started wit the GI bill. Since then, the world of work has been binary: white collar and blue collar.
From the get-go, the message the educational system sends is: White collar is better and to do that you must go to college. Over the years, graduate and professional degrees have been added on.
Should that message change to: Earning a living is difficult. Learn what's aligned with demand. Re-learn as demand shifts. The differences between white collar and blue collar have become blurred.
Currently, in so many white collar lines of work there is a glut of talent. Those fields include law, ghostwriting which is my profession and financial services. Regarding the latter, outplacement centers are bulging to bursting with those laid off from financial firms in the New York Metro area.
Not that blue collar is Paradise. Here in Eastern Ohio, there are the vacant stares of those displaced when the steel industry imploded and the coal one shrunk because of environmental concerns. When construction slows, many blue collar workers got hit hard.
But, during The Great Recession the plumbers, electricians, personal care aides and truck drivers didn't skip a beat in getting all the work they could handle. They are still the folks who are off to work every morning in a relaxed manner. Meanwhile, we white collars wring our hands about finding work. Or holding on to what we got.
In that last category - truck driving - the American Transportation Research Institute reports there is a shortage of 100,000 drivers. That will worsen as Baby Boomers retire. It's predicted, notes Recode, that the driverless truck will make it easier for truck drivers, not eliminate their jobs. At least not in the near future. Self-driving truck startups include Otto and Embark.
Long haul truckers, like plumbers and electricians, are among the blue collar elite in earnings. Here in Eastern OH, a new graduate can earn $27 hourly. But with a year of experience, that can increase significantly. Thanks to automation and regulations, the tasks required by the job no longer require a high level of mechanical skill or physical strength. More females are becoming long haul drivers.
According to the numbers the Department of Labor cranks up, the median compensation for lawyers is $115,820 a year or $55,69 hourly. Those affected by the 2016 Cravath bump are hired in at $180,000 salary. Bonuses can increase that.
Sure, practicing law is nice work. That is, if you can get it. So, is my field of ghostwriting. When I get high-end assignments.
When he was planning how he could earn a living, Scott Turow decided he could not make a good one being a writer. So, he enrolled in Harvard Law School. His day job is practicing law. On the side he writes fiction which sells well.
More of us professionals may go that route. After a layoff we may train for blue collar occupations. Members of Generation Z might still opt for college but anticipate entering the blue collar workforce after graduation. A college degree could provide them with more mobility in blue collar fields. For example, they could be promoted from hands-on aide at Sunrise assisted living centers to head of marketing or executive director.
Eventually, the designations of white collar and blue collar might fade.
In earning a living since ghostwriting took a hit post-9/11, my career path has been very fluid. When white collar assignments weren't available I did blue collar ones. Those included temping as a security guard, front desk personnel in a large hotel and call center operator.
Working as a long distance operator in New Jersey Bell paid for college. Had it not been pounded into me that I "should be" white collar I might not have framed what I did to earn a buck in those abstract categories. My grandparents and parents were blue collar. And not in the elite tiers.
BTW, right now I am sitting pretty in the white collar world. I have assignments to ghostwrite two books for a brandname in the medical community. When that work dries up, I will aggressively leverage it to attract more white collar work. If that doesn't pan out, I will revert back to blue collar.
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