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New Study Puts a Spotlight on Craftsmen and Other Blue-Collar Work in Europe

Although many would consider blue-collar work to be the backbone of any economy, that isn't quite the case for many anymore. Whether it's due to lack of money or the appeal around laborious work, the blue-collar workforce isn’t what it used to be.

Welder - Image by Laurent Schmidt on Pixabay

A recent study brings the spotlight onto blue-collar workers (manufacturing, truck drivers, metal workers, warehouse workers). It shows which cities across Europe provide the best opportunity for blue-collar workers by showing salary potential and an overall score.

The blue-collar work study put London in the middle of the pack amongst 50 other cities.

What Has Happened to London's Blue-Collar Workforce?

How did London's blue-collar workforce drastically change decade after decade? The appeal of going for post-secondary education and earning a degree plays a significant factor. As many higher-paying (considered white-collar) jobs require additional education past high school, many young adults opt for furthering their education.

The Brexit deal has also greatly impacted the blue-collar workforce in London. Many employers fear that the post-Brexit world will have a negative impact on manual and elementary workers.

However, most recently, the looming "deep recession" due to Covid-19 and ongoing shutdowns across the EU and the world. The EU economy is projected to grow by 5.8 percent in 2021. However, economic forecasts suggest that the economy will fall 8.3 percent by the end of 2020. Although there is the recovery potential shown between the two numbers, it shows there is still much more to go to get the economy back to where it was before the novel coronavirus began.

How Can London Boost the Blue-Collar Workforce?

Truck driver - Photo by Veronica538

What causes a city like London to go from being a blue-collar workforce hub to it being only a small fraction of workers today (there are roughly 127,000 employed manufacturing jobs in London that is an £8.3 billion market)? The idea around what blue-collar means can play a significant role.

The history of blue-collar workers dates back to the early 1920s when those who worked in the dirty, physical jobs were looked at as being below the "white-collar" position. Although blue-collar jobs are still considered to be those positions in manufacturing-like jobs (physical, hands-on labourer positions), viewing them as being lesser than an office job or smaller pay isn't accurate anymore. However, that isn't the case across all locations, as the study suggests.

London's average construction worker salary is roughly £32,000 a year, which puts the city 14 out of 50 on the list. Compare that to Basel, Switzerland, at the top of the list with the average yearly salary of £61,000, that is a significant difference. One could argue that increasing the wage of this type of work would help draw more into blue-collar work in London.

Adding more appeal to manufacturing and physical labour jobs could help draw attention back to the once-booming market. Targeting some of the top complaints as to why people either leave blue-collar jobs or go after different career opportunities could be the boost this industry needs to survive.

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