Why Blue-Collar Work Matters

There’s a perception out there that the Dirt World is more about finance and technology these days than it is about building. And from this perspective, it’s easy to feel that many people just don’t appreciate blue collar work anymore.

But the reality of the situation is this: Blue collar work remains as important today as it’s always been. As leaders in the Dirt World, you know this. So the question really is, how do we convey this importance to the young people who are poised to be the future of our workforce?

The built world is the backbone of America.

Construction isn’t trendy. It doesn’t attract buzzwords, and it doesn’t dominate the headlines the way the finance and tech industries do. And this can hurt your business, especially when you're running a large work site that you need to fully staff.

This might make you feel blue collar work just isn’t all that important anymore to the rest of the world. But there’s nothing further from the truth.

In a way, it’s like being a soldier. “You can come up with great plans in the military world,” Willink said. "But at the end of the day, someone’s got to know how to shoot that machine gun. It’s the same thing with construction. You can come up with great technology that eases some of the aspects of building. But at the end of the day, it’s people who are going to go out there to build.”

The key thing to remember is this. Without construction, there would be no finance. There would be no tech. People need homes to live in, and companies need buildings to operate out of. This is what America is. Construction—our built world—is the backbone of America.

A career in the trades is meaningful.

We hear a lot these days about young people going into different industries and not giving the blue collar world a second thought. But according to Willink, there’s a reckoning happening right now. “People are spending $200,000 to get a degree,” he pointed out. “They’re coming out of school $200,000 in debt, and they’re getting a job that only pays $34,000 a year, based on that degree. And this is something the world is starting to see.”

What’s worse is that the degrees themselves don’t really provide much benefit to the world on their own. When people get these degrees, they aren’t learning any skills. They’ve learned things they could have learned in the library, by reading books. And while it’s admirable to read books to learn things, it’s just as admirable to put your hands to the task and learn a skill.

As Willink put it, when you go into a blue collar industry, you can become an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter. Maybe you pour concrete, or become an ironworker. Whatever you’re learning in the trades, it’s a skill you’re going to use to benefit the world in some way.

“Everyone says young people aren’t interested in working in the blue-collar world,” Willink said. “But what I see is a lot of younger people realizing that they can get a four-year degree, but it’s hard to pin down how that degree works when it comes to interacting with the world. And from there, they’re starting to see that they can have a career in the trades, where they can actually bring something meaningful to the world.”

The trades offer unlimited potential to lead.

Willink also had some advice for young people looking for the kind of opportunity in blue collar work that they see in other industries. “I have a friend, a smart guy, a hard-working guy, who decided to become an electrician,” he said. “And it wasn’t a lot of years before he had ten other electricians working for him. Sure, he’s still an electrician. But he’s not pulling wire every day. He’s running a business.”

People often overlook this unlimited potential in the trades. “I don’t know any better place to start than learning a trade and coming up through the ranks,” Willink pointed out. “Put effort into learning how to lead, and you will end up in charge. And from there, your potential is unlimited.”

Raise awareness about the importance of blue collar work

While people often overlook the importance blue collar work has in our modern world of tech and finance, the construction industry continues to form the backbone of America. After all, without people building things, where would America be?

And as Willink points out, many young people have started reaching this conclusion. They’re seeing the appeal of bringing something to the world through a meaningful career in the trades. They're seeing that there’s a lot of untapped potential to become leaders in the Dirt World. 

The biggest problem they're facing now is that they're not sure how to break into the industry. It's interesting, it's got their attention, but how do they get their foot in the door?

You can help solve that problem for them. Better Dirt World is a community that's helping raise awareness, pave career paths, provide better training, and more to help the next generation of workers get into the field—and to support all the blue collar heroes who are already there. You can join this effort today and start making the Dirt World a better place.

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