The blue-collar job market is in need of hard workers with high demand for the services, but the world is pushing young job seekers down the college route. We talked with Ken Rusk about his experience hiring blue-collar employees and how he views the job market.


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About Our Guest:

Ken Rusk

Ken Rusk

Owner - Rusk Industries

Ken Rusk is the owner of Rusk Industries in Toledo, Ohio. Rusk Industries was established in 1986 and owns multiple construction companies, one of which includes EverDry Waterproofing. He is also the author of Blue Collar Cash, a book to help people pursue a great job in a blue-collar profession.

Ken began working in construction when he was still in his teens and never went to college. Still, he defined success in his own way and today runs some of the most successful local brands in Toledo. He realized that with hard work, there was money to be made in trade-based jobs like construction, plumbing, and electrical. Now he shares his success with his employees

Podcast Transcription

Who is the Blue Collar Worker?

“Blue-collar” was a phrase credited with being coined by a local Iowa newspaper in 1924 because of the typical uniform collars of the workers it represented. The blue-collar worker is defined as being someone from the working class whose job is centered around manual labor. 

It is not uncommon that workers and applicants in the blue-collar space to have never gone to college or have formal trade training prior to entering the field. 

Blue-collar jobs are unique in that there is potential to make a really good steady income without wracking up debt from education. In fact, part of what Ken does is to teach his employees how to manage their money and build wealth. 

The Future of Blue Collar Jobs

Ken has seen alarming trends, being at the forefront of the blue-collar job market: there are fewer and fewer people pursuing blue-collar jobs but the demand for the services is not going to go down. 

This means there could be a shortage in the services available and eventually a rise in costs. 

What This Means

If you’re in the construction industry or one similar which relies heavily on the blue-collar worker then you may see difficulties hiring people. So what should you do? How do you make yourself a desirable employer like Ken?

First, make sure you’re structured to retain employees. Even if you have a great hiring process in place if you can keep employees you’re only going to cost yourself money and develop a bad reputation as a place to work. Give employees a reason to stay. 

Make sure you provide appropriate training to all your workers and not just when they start or if they hold a management position. Investing in education is investing in employees, so show them that you appreciate them enough to help them grow. 

Include financial management and similar non-work-related training for your employees as well!

There are two big boxes that need a check for an employee to stay at a job for years: they need to be able to sustain their basic needs and they need to enjoy their job.

Sometimes you provide the pay and benefits and then you grow a stellar engagement program, but employees still end up leaving. Why?

The answer is that if you’re often hiring people who have no idea how to manage what you’re giving them. Even college grads, decorated with higher degrees and early experience in their field, don’t usually have a good grasp of how to remain financially stable, let alone create wealth from what they’re giving. 

Ken makes sure his employees have mentorship and coaching to reach sometimes beyond their financial goals. 

If you can help give your employees that security and create a great work environment, then you’ll be one of the most desirable employers around. Share what you do and celebrate the success of your employees, even if they are not work-related.

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