19 March 2016

Nigeria: White-Collar or Blue-Collar Job - Which One's for You?

The distinction between blue collar and white collar jobs arose from the blue uniforms traditionally worn by men who carried out manual labour, which was in contrast to the white buttoned-down shirts worn by men in professional occupations.

These uniforms became less prevalent with time, but it is possible to note important differences between those occupational classifications.

According to Wikipedia, blue-collar workers can be unskilled, low-skilled or highly skilled, ranging from relatively simple assembly-line manufacturing to the use of computerized equipment by automobile mechanics.

Unskilled work does not require a great deal of training or human capital formation. Human capital is a worker's productive capacity: his or her knowledge and skill in performing tasks. Common methods of acquiring human capital include formal schooling, apprenticeship programmes and on-the-job training.

In addition, blue-collar jobs generally involve manual labour and physical tasks. Some of the occupations in this category are construction, maintenance, carpentry, plumbing and heating, typesetting and truck driving. But then, first, we need to know what this type of jobs involves. The definitions of blue collar and white collar jobs as given on wikipedia are as follows:

Blue Collar Jobs: Blue-collar workers carry out hard jobs and work with their hands. The skills needed for a blue-collar job depends on the occupation. Some blue-collar occupations require highly skilled personnel who are formally trained and certified. Those who belong to this group of people include aircraft mechanics, plumbers, electricians and structural workers. Many blue-collar employers hire unskilled and low-skilled workers to perform simple tasks such as cleaning, maintenance and even repairs.

White Collar Jobs: White-collar workers usually carry out duties in an office setting. They are highly skilled and formally trained professionals. Some white-collar workers include accountants, bankers, journalists and lawyers who provide professional services to clients. Other white-collar workers such as engineers and architects provide services to businesses, corporations and government agencies.

Because of these differences, Lifextra sought the opinion of Nigerians. The responses received were overwhelming as they were interesting.

Adeogun Bolanle responded without hesitation. She said, "Yes. I will opt for a white collar job but it depends on the conditions. If you want to make it in this society, you don't have to be streamlined to one thing."

The administrator added, "I can have a business and if the white collar job comes and it pays as much or even better than my business, I will take it and employ capable hands who will continue my business. So I will go for a white collar job anytime any day, because you don't know what is boosting your curriculum vitae or preparing you for something greater".

An article titled, "Difference Between Blue Collar and White Collar" posted on an online site, Surbhi S, states thus, "In an organization, there can be many groups of workers that can be distinguished by the colours of the dresses they wear. The colours of their uniforms specify the job performed by them in the organization. Blue collar jobs are the jobs whereby the person performing the job does manual labour and gets an hourly wage. The second kind of jobs are the white collar jobs, in which the employee does clerical work and draws salary at a fixed rate."

It adds, "The difference between the two jobs is fading away with the passage of time due to the low pay-scale of the white collar jobs and high demand of skilled labours."

Oshoffa Godswill, an engineer, opined that those who are in white collar jobs can be likened to being happy slaves. "There is nothing more than being your own boss. If I can struggle to have the business that I have, then I can struggle to make it bigger hence I don't need a white collar job", he remarked.

Oshofa noted that the richest people in the world are business owners and employers of labour. "I don't believe you can make it through a white collar job. It only prepares you for greater things, but it won't really make you great," he maintained.

Evelyn Andrews, a job seeker, has a different view. She told Lifextra that she would gladly do whichever type of job comes her way, be it white collar or blue collar, "as long as I am working."

Evelyn reminded that it not easy to get a job in Nigeria, or even get the required funds needed to set up a business.

Lawrence Ike, a businessman, said, "With the business I am doing, I am not sure I would leave it for a white collar job, except they intend paying me nothing less than N300,000 a month. But I know that such jobs are not easy to come by. The only time you get paid with that kind of amount is when you have worked for years and you have attained a certain level in life in any profession. For me, it's business because it's the best bet, and I don't think I'll leave it to become answerable to anyone."

Another online site puts it this way: "It is sometimes difficult to determine where a particular job belongs when it comes to white-collar or blue-collar jobs. Understanding these categories can help make decisions such as how to designate an appropriate occupation, which in turn affects the life and social class of a worker."


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