According to the State Health Facts, a project of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation blue-collar workers comprise more than 60 percent of the United States workforce. To be successful at their jobs, these workers require a specific set of skills. Unlike white-collar workers, blue collar workers perform more physical work. Along with the physical responsibilities required, these workers may also need to use their mechanical skills, problem-solving skills and computerized equipment skills.
People in blue-collar jobs use mechanical skills to work with machinery and create products or serve customers by demonstrating produces such as machinery. Having mechanical skills is important to understanding how a product performs. A blue-collar worker who understands the equipment thus could see potential steps for improving the efficiency of the process or the product, such as oiling a machine before every use to keep its engine humming. The skills also may entail pinpointing and fixing any malfunctions or potential problems with the equipment. Mechanical skills enable the worker to modify equipment to produce new products.
People in blue-collar jobs perform their responsibilities in a variety of settings. Some work outside in all kinds of weather. Others work inside factory buildings. Inside the factory, the worker might face situations where the company experiences an electrical shortage at the same time a customer order needs to be completed. Workers in blue-collar jobs thus need problem-solving skills to find alternative ways of completing a customer order, even if the electricity is out or equipment is stuck in the mud.
Physical skills comprise a major component of the worker’s skill set. Blue-collar workers who deal with assembling small toys need to have good hand-to-eye coordination. Workers who spend their working hours on scaffolding need coordination and good balance. Some blue-collar jobs require physical strength, such as delivering furniture to customer locations.
These workers also deal with the changing workplace and the introduction of technology. Many pieces of equipment used by blue-collar workers utilize computer technology, such as computer numeric controls or CNCs, to track the production quantity and run time of the equipment. These workers also need to know how to use the computers to record their work time and their work site each day. Many workers who spend their time on job sites communicate with the home office through email and computerized work orders, receiving the information on laptop computers kept in their vehicles.