Generally, white collar workers are defined as educated and salaried individuals who perform professional, administrative and managerial work in contrast to blue collar whose job require only manual, physical labor or physical skills. Blue collar workers, for doing their job are required to have very little or no education and may or may not be skilled. White collars work in offices and have decent work environments whereas blue collar workers have to do their jobs in factory or field. A company may have both blue and white collars working in an organization, but the difference between them is the job environment, skill set, execution of work process and individual views towards life in general.
White and blue collar job attributes in India:
In India, we can say organizational structure is broadly divided into three major categories as high-end white collar professionals doing intellectual work, general white collar and blue collar workers. Growing up into professional white collar job requires mental agility, doing more mental challenging work with patience, have long term outlook and refining our interpersonal behavior. In white collar jobs, work is analyzed based on the status reports but not seen as in manufacturing or retail industry. The in-depth understanding of general blue and white categories can be done based on their education, social behavior, family background, work environment, earned income etc.
Differences between general white and blue collars:
- Indian labor market is mostly dominated by the large pool of blue collar workforce with and approximate estimation of more than 370 million workers. Some of the blue collar unskilled jobs do not require any training to execute their tasks. These workers follow the routine activity in their jobs. Due to the job roles and work environment a large percentage of blue collars do not have ability to build self-discipline & decision making skills.
- The learning skills of most Indian workers are influenced by family environment, living conditions and social circumstances. It is typically difficult to educate a person with blue collar background than those with moderately educated white collar individuals.
- In India most of the blue collar workers are not career oriented i.e. they don’t plan to increase their qualification or knowledge, to get a promotion and move up to higher position in the organizations. They tend to focus more on monetary benefits, and have limited ability to see things as a big picture. A factory environment that is disconnected from customer can cultivate a mindset that is not customer friendly. A factory worker does not see the difficulty in convincing the customer to buy the products, which a sales person is aware of.
Most of the college graduates, after completing their professional education, enter the white collar environment for working, to seek or gain much needed experience. The globalization of white collar work strategy has increased many jobs in India, as many developed countries are outsourcing their white collar work to some Asian and other eastern European countries.
- White collar jobs are categorized from highly educated top professionals doing intelligent work to the middle and lower sections performing clerical, record keeping and administrative tasks based on the aptitude, knowledge and experience of a person. Just like in blue collar, the family background and upbringing environment makes it easy or difficult for an individual to do white collar work.
- Things change faster in work life of a white collar worker as such they are comparatively more versatile, career oriented and self-disciplined while executing their assigned tasks. They are more interested in professional growth, easily adaptable in diversified working cultures, express curiosity towards learning new things and as a result enjoy more job satisfaction than other groups. A good white-collar professional will be outcome driven and make a real contribution of value addition to the organization.
While in service sector the employees are career oriented that means they expect promotion and move from one role to another. During this change in roles, they transition their mindset to fit the various duties. For each position, they need to think from a different point of view. A sales executive only thinks about his sales target, but when the sales executive becomes a team leader he has to now figure out how to hire good sales executives as well as train, support and monitor them. Like this when a person grows from lower level to higher roles in white collar jobs, he has to handle the change and adapt dynamically to the new job responsibilities. Learning is more especially in knowledge intensive white collar roles. This learning also enables transformation, and transformation facilities career growth.
Transition from blue to white and vice-versa:
Every person has an equal opportunity to grow in this society but the approach to accomplish it is entirely different. To work as a blue or white collar is an individual choice, and no one can force any other person to choose a specific career path. For instance, a person with blue collar family background may decide to become white collar worker or a professional degree holder who is eligible for white collar job may end-up taking a blue collar occupation due to his/her interest and ability.
So it is very unpredictable to guess the future occupational status of a person because the transition between blue and white may happen either way. Some individuals from blue collar background prefer to choose white collar occupations even though the salary or income earned is much lesser than their blue collar jobs. This is mainly because they are more interested in the type of role they are pursuing rather than only compensation.