Susbcribe to BiziNet Digital
Name:     Email:    
BiziNet Logo

Grey Collar Workers Need a Clear Career Path


The distinction between blue and white collar roles has long been recognised broadly in the community. Now a third collar category has emerged: the grey collar.

Experienced in either technical, trades or service roles, grey collar workers are aspirational, wishing to progress their careers by building on their existing skills and experience.

Take for example Jared, a carpenter who has the technical skills and qualifications to undertake his job which would broadly be recognised as a blue collar role. Jared has performed well in his job, working hard for his employer who would like to recognise his commitment and potential by giving him opportunity to transition to a supervisory role. The additional skills that Jared would require in this role could be problem solving, leading a team, negotiation, conflict resolution and IT skills. Once he has these skills, he could cross over to other roles which could be underpinned by his technical knowledge as a carpenter, or he could transition into other roles where his transferrable skills come to the fore. We would consider him a grey collar worker.
Another example of a grey collar worker is Natalia. She found work in hospitality and decided to pursue it as a career, enrolling in a qualification in supervision and then a diploma in hospitality. She gained a lot of valuable experience in this at TAFE and is now managing her shift at a popular local restaurant.

Grey collar workers often experience a block to their careers in moving to supervisory or managerial roles. This block is due to a need for formal qualifications or transferrable soft skills such as project management, leadership, communication and IT. Historically it has been difficult for these workers to gain these qualifications and skills due to the nature of their work schedules and the cost of full qualifications.

Our recent survey of businesses within Greater Western Sydney (GWS) revealed that this is not only a problem to individuals. It is also affecting employers, who are struggling to recruit to the more senior roles within these industries.

The Greater Western Sydney Skills Audit which we conducted in association with Western Sydney Business Connection earlier this year surveyed 456 businesses. It revealed that managerial roles made up 30% of the unfilled roles in GWS. These roles took almost twice as long on average to recruit to and also had the highest number of unsuitable applicants. Demand for grey collar workers outweighed supply by 10%, the highest discrepancy of any of the collar colours.

One of the possible ways of supporting grey collar workers which we have been looking into at TAFE Western Sydney is breaking up qualifications into relevant chunks. These part-qualifications are designed to be affordable and allow employees to quickly fill up the gaps in their knowledge or skills to make them employable. These could be ‘skill sets’ pulling together units from an existing qualification which, if desired, could be later built on to achieve the full qualification.

We are in discussions with employers and industry to find out exactly what it is that they are looking for in their employees so that we can adapt training to suit.

The great news in the short term is that the NSW Government has listened to these concerns and has opened up a way for workers to access free training in part-qualifications in what they term ‘targeted priority’ subject areas for the remainder of 2015.

Additionally, from 2016, eligibility criteria for accessing government funding for vocational education and training has been opened up so that it does not exclude those who have qualifications equivalent to a Certificate IV or higher.

We are also able to work with employers to customise training which meets the specific needs of their business. Upskilling your staff and offering opportunities for progression is a great way to improve the productivity and the loyalty of your employees. It can also be a way
of making the training more efficient as we can deliver the training onsite and use examples from your workplace.

I invite employers to contact us to discuss their current and future training needs and to be a part of what is an ongoing dialogue about skilling the workforce of the future in Western Sydney.

The distinction between blue and white collar roles has long been recognised broadly in the community. Now a third collar category has emerged: the grey collar.

Experienced in either technical, trades or service roles, grey collar workers are aspirational, wishing to progress their careers by building on their existing skills and experience.

Take for example Jared, a carpenter who has the technical skills and qualifications to undertake his job which would broadly be recognised as a blue collar role. Jared has performed well in his job, working hard for his employer who would like to recognise his commitment and potential by giving him opportunity to transition to a supervisory role. The additional skills that Jared would require in this role could be problem solving, leading a team, negotiation, conflict resolution and IT skills. Once he has these skills, he could cross over to other roles which could be underpinned by his technical knowledge as a carpenter, or he could transition into other roles where his transferrable skills come to the fore. We would consider him a grey collar worker.
Another example of a grey collar worker is Natalia. She found work in hospitality and decided to pursue it as a career, enrolling in a qualification in supervision and then a diploma in hospitality. She gained a lot of valuable experience in this at TAFE and is now managing her shift at a popular local restaurant.

Grey collar workers often experience a block to their careers in moving to supervisory or managerial roles. This block is due to a need for formal qualifications or transferrable soft skills such as project management, leadership, communication and IT. Historically it has been difficult for these workers to gain these qualifications and skills due to the nature of their work schedules and the cost of full qualifications.

Our recent survey of businesses within Greater Western Sydney (GWS) revealed that this is not only a problem to individuals. It is also affecting employers, who are struggling to recruit to the more senior roles within these industries.

The Greater Western Sydney Skills Audit which we conducted in association with Western Sydney Business Connection earlier this year surveyed 456 businesses. It revealed that managerial roles made up 30% of the unfilled roles in GWS. These roles took almost twice as long on average to recruit to and also had the highest number of unsuitable applicants. Demand for grey collar workers outweighed supply by 10%, the highest discrepancy of any of the collar colours.

One of the possible ways of supporting grey collar workers which we have been looking into at TAFE Western Sydney is breaking up qualifications into relevant chunks. These part-qualifications are designed to be affordable and allow employees to quickly fill up the gaps in their knowledge or skills to make them employable. These could be ‘skill sets’ pulling together units from an existing qualification which, if desired, could be later built on to achieve the full qualification.

We are in discussions with employers and industry to find out exactly what it is that they are looking for in their employees so that we can adapt training to suit.

The great news in the short term is that the NSW Government has listened to these concerns and has opened up a way for workers to access free training in part-qualifications in what they term ‘targeted priority’ subject areas for the remainder of 2015.

Additionally, from 2016, eligibility criteria for accessing government funding for vocational education and training has been opened up so that it does not exclude those who have qualifications equivalent to a Certificate IV or higher.

We are also able to work with employers to customise training which meets the specific needs of their business. Upskilling your staff and offering opportunities for progression is a great way to improve the productivity and the loyalty of your employees. It can also be a way
of making the training more efficient as we can deliver the training onsite and use examples from your workplace.

I invite employers to contact us to discuss their current and future training needs and to be a part of what is an ongoing dialogue about skilling the workforce of the future in Western Sydney.

- See more at: http://www.greatwesternpages.com.au/gwp--online--journal/2015/11/06/grey-collar-workers-need-a-clear-career-path/#sthash.EXT90Z49.dpuf

by
Published on by BiziNet

Reader Comments



Share
BiziNet Magazine Issues
BiziNet Magazine #98 - Sep/Oct 2019
BiziNet Magazine #97 - Jul/Aug 2019
BiziNet Magazine #96 - May/Jun 2019
BiziNet Magazine #95 - Mar/Apr 2019
BiziNet Magazine #94 - Jan/Feb 2019
BiziNet Magazine #93 - Nov/Dec 2018
BiziNet Magazine #92 - Sep/Oct 2018
BiziNet Magazine #91 - July/Aug  2018
BiziNet Magazine #90 - May/Jun 2018
BiziNet Magazine #89 - Mar/Apr 2018
Network Advertising
The Inflatable Event CompanyCommercial Flyer Distribution, B2B Flyer DeliveryFlyer Printing, Business Card Printing, Booklet Printing and Other Printing Services - BiziNet Printing