Employment: more than white or blue

By Stan Jennings, - Superintendent - Scioto County Career Technical Center

Workforce is defined as the labor pool in employment. A workforce is a group of “blue-white-pink and grey collar” individuals that have different skillsets that perform a needed function for the citizenry of a community. The structure of the workforce is determined by the needs of that community and its business and industry and the interests of that population.

We generally think that “white collar” work is office work and other professionals that do administrative jobs, while that “blue collar” jobs are thought of as being manual in nature. Additionally: we may now include the “pink collar” designation as being service and entertainment oriented employment, and “grey collar” which refers to individuals that have a particular skillset that does not align to their employment needs.

When we put all of these individuals into a community they become the workforce and that workforce determines the utilization of the individual’s skillsets. If a community has many manufacturing opportunities (predominantly “blue collar”) then many individuals will choose to engage skillsets that align to that employment, but others will choose to become “grey collar” (having a different skillset) as the opportunity may better meet their employment and financial needs. These distributions can further be complicated by the health and other needs in the community. An aging population may need more healthcare workers, while a younger-tech oriented community may need more individuals with technology skills.

There are employment constants across all communities. While the percentages change, basic concepts do not. All communities need basic; education, health, service and civic workers. The environment of the employment determines the direction that the workers in that network aspire to attain. While other factors determine the fate of the chosen skillset of the individual. An individual may aspire to be a musician, but factors may hinder that aspiration. The key in most cases is for the individual to determine the need and relate their interest back to that potential employment. A good example is the “hands-on” oriented individual that has the skillsets to be considered talent for other employment, but may wish to bring a “hybrid” nature to their employment to satisfy not only their innate interest but also for financial gain.

A common distribution that is a starting point for any community is 1:2:7. With 1–being post graduate degree workers, 2-4 year University workers, and 7 being others with skillsets and varying educational backgrounds. This being only the starting point to determining the actual workforce need of a community.

By Stan Jennings,


Scioto County Career Technical Center