A blue-collar worker may be an employee in a manufacturing setup, a processing facility, or a warehouse worker in logistics. The other types of blue-collar work are landscaping, construction, waste removal, etc. Blue-collar jobs are often mistaken for unskilled labor, but the fact of the matter is that they are highly skilled manual labor, some, even certified professionals.
As recruiters, we face several challenges with blue-collar recruitment. Let's take a look at some of these problems, acknowledge them, and overcome our recruitment struggles.
Lack of Awareness of Opportunities
White-collar jobs have countless admired up job portals, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Naukri, Shine, Monster, etc., and yes, these cater to blue-collared jobs as well. However, there is still a vast majority of blue-collared workers who are not found on these platforms.
Just to give you a rough estimate, according to LinkedIn statistics, India is its second-largest user base with over 42 million users, and these are only white-collar users. However, India as a country has one of the largest numbers of blue-collar workers in the world, estimated at around 300 million. Now considering these numbers, there are still a huge number of personnel out online platforms. Mostly because they may not have access to computers or the know-how of the conditions of the application process. Additionally, they may also be intimidated by technology as most of them hail from rural areas and face language barriers. If they can converse only in their native language, they cannot use most online platforms, as these may not support multilingual facilities; all of it resulting in a lack of awareness of employment opportunities.
As much as we look into job portals or appropriate niches, the majority of blue-collar jobs, whether we like it or not, are recruited via newspaper ads, and this is something we as recruiters can still make use of until presented with a better alternative. Returning to the old ways isn’t always bad, just like throwing back a classic instead of a new release, can and will result in the desired results.
Temporary Projects vs Intentional Career Building
A major constraint with blue-collar recruitment is that the workers are more task-oriented than gaining momentum. They are focused on acquiring instant temporary projects rather than goal-oriented, career building.
For however understandable reasons, their need for immediate gratification puts a certain time constraint on recruiters. These workers are often ready to pass up a good opportunity which will take time, for a post that starts immediately.
Additionally, blue-collared workers are leaning more and more towards the gig economy, working multiple projects and jobs at a time, wherein, with the lack of benefits, inconsistent income, and the resulting burn-out caused by working various jobs, their career growth dims weaker and weaker.
Lack of Proper Skill Evaluation
Another prevalent challenge about blue-collar recruitment is that there is no proper evaluation of their skills. One goes by their face value or word of mouth. Since it's impossible to cross-examine a candidate's skill set in its entirety during an interview, time and resources are wasted on both ends as often the skillset of a blue-collar worker may fail to meet the standard or requirement of the employers, after his/her joining.
To tackle this problem, we may consider promoting employee referrals. Implementing an employee referral program would allow current employees, who’d already be well versed with company requirements, to refer friends, family, and other associates who’d be well suited for the job, thereby boosting recruitment and reducing attrition rates.
Labor Contractors and Middlemen
Blue-collar workers, because of their lack of connections, often depend on labor contractors to find them work opportunities. These contractors in turn register these job seekers in their recruitment agencies and allocate them work. They are not the direct employers but act as a connecting point to companies, who approach them with requirements of human resources. Although these middlemen make it easier for workers to find job opportunities, more often than not, they charge hefty commissions and push aspirants towards taking up low-paying jobs with the harshest working conditions.
With the rise in the number of jobseekers and no corresponding increase in opportunities, blue and grey collar workers register themselves with several contractors, multiplying their chances of exploitation.
While there are more challenges than the ones listed above that we as recruiters face while hiring blue collared employees, a practical suggestion in both, the long term and in the progressive sense would be to conduct job fairs where candidates can come in direct contact with the HR personnel, eliminating the need for middlemen, and building a database therewith, ensuring that there will always be people in the pipeline, ready and available, for when the need arises.
Job Booster Social India aspires to be a catalyst of change in this industry segment. Bridging blue-collar workers and dignified jobs. JBSI works with several NGO and Developmental organizations to assist in the Training and employability of these workers, ensuring that they are not exploited. Job Booster Social India is driven by socio-economic inclusion and seeks respectable employment for the unreached and underprivileged.