Gain, train and retain: The vicious cycle of the blue-collar employer

With numerous companies working day in and day out to take care of various aspects of our lives, things have certainly got much easier for us. Sample this, whether you get hungry or you feel like shopping, you can make anything reach your doorstep with a click. You never have to worry about commuting anywhere with umpteen cabs plying in your vicinity. And just like that, we don’t always see the massive effort and the army of blue-collar employees that makes it happen so smoothly for us. More importantly, the effort it takes to plan, manage and function with this workforce – security, housekeeping, drivers, delivery executives etc – on the part of the employer is something not many of us are aware of. If hiring and training the right kind of white-collar employees is an uphill task for employers, well, just magnify those challenges amply in case of their blue-collar counterparts.

Hiring the right fit largely from migratory workforce

We all know filling a vacant position is no walk in the park, not even with proper resume and work records. Then imagine finding people who don’t have a formal work history or digital footprint. Around 60-65% of the blue-collar workers are migratory workforce, which makes it even more complex for the employers to hire them. Often, the physical distance acts as a barrier – there aren’t people available in the city or the state where they are required. They mainly belong to rural, remote areas and the organisations are located in metropolitan, Tier-I cities. Often employers struggle to find the right channel to bridge this gap.

Insufficient manpower vs hiring someone with a doubtful background

As a result of not being able to reach the right workers, often companies are forced to function with severe shortage of manpower. Else, in order to fill up the positions, they are compelled to hire someone they are not sure about. Coming from a faraway remote area, these workers often lack proper documents for the purpose of verification. And even if they produce them, it is complicated to run a check with respect to the place where they are working.

Struggling with unskilled labour in the unorganised sector

A recent report by the International Labour Organisation says that around 81% of the population in India is working in the informal economy. With a massive population like ours, that’s quite a huge number. But why doesn’t that work in our favour? It’s because we have found that only 5-7% of those are skilled and certified labour. Blue-collar jobs are often treated secondary and therefore, there’s no formal training in place for these employees. It means that the employer is stuck with majority of the unskilled manpower to do the job. But this perception couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only do the blue-collar jobs need skills and efficiency, the digitisation in every sector demands them to keep pace in order to help serve customers better. So their training has become an indispensable part of their job. But training them at the cost of working days or productivity is not feasible at all for the employer.

The vicious cycle of attrition

The blue-collar segment witnesses about 40-150% attrition in all the sectors they are employed in, which is way more than the white-collar jobs, and enough to impact any business adversely. This is the most complex challenge that the employers face because it brings them back to square one. The high attrition not only severely affects the productivity, but also fails their efforts at so many levels. They have to go over the entire process – finding the right fit to fill the vacancy, verifying their background, training them – everything all over again. The lack of credible training partners doesn’t help the matters either. And as the vicious cycle never seems to end for them, all they look for is a way out, a simplified process to identify and hire the right candidate for the job, minus the futility of the exercise.

Comments (2)

  • Richard_Pouck

    It is a reasonable assumption most on-the-job training describes the sort of blue collar job that used to be good enough for a fairly good suburban life in the West. However if it is not longer good enough – if young urban men of any race have a strong incentive to take riskier career paths with higher pay offs – we would expect a collapse in the number of young men willing to do such work.

    • Shubhangi Sinha

      Blue-collar jobs here have been fairly unorganised for the longest time. So, a formal on-the-job training not only improves the quality of the work but also instills a sense of belongingness and duty in these employees. It streamlines the process and helps reduce the biggest problem of attrition in this sector.


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