I remember reading years ago Robert Kelly’s work centred on the emergence of a new type of worker. Previously, we knew of the “blue collar” worker involved in manual tasks, trades, farming, and construction. This was then built upon with the emergence of professional service organisations centred on desk-based work, such as accounting, banking, financial services, etc. These employees came to be known as the “white collar” worker. The next type of worker Kelly imagined was the “Gold Collar” worker. In his book, The Gold Collar Worker: Harnessing the Brainpower of the New Workforce
“The new workers are the gold collar workers, and they hold the key to the future…Perhaps the most significant difference (between them and white collar and blue collar workers) pertains to the nature of their work and freedom and flexibility with which they conduct it. They engage in complex problem solving, not bureaucratic drudgery or mechanical routine. They are imaginative and original, not docile, and obedient. Their work is challenging, not repetitious, and occurs in an uncertain environment in which results are rarely predictable or quantifiable. Many Gold Collar workers don’t know what they will do next, when they will do it, or sometimes even where.” Kelly 1985:8
It is amazing to reflect on these thoughts in the current context we are experiencing. 20 years ago, we would have classified teaching as a “white collar” job. However, with massive shifts in technology, exponential increases in knowledge, societal swings in ideology, as well as the implications of the pandemic and natural disasters, school workforce needs have changed rapidly. In fact, I would dare say that we are desperately needing our staff to be Gold Collar workers to assist in navigating these times of uncertainty and discontinuity.
I share this small insight with you as a different vantage point in terms of how you may see your staff, how you might deploy them, and the types of attributes that may be useful as you seek to fill upcoming positions. The work environment has changed, perhaps forever, and we must start grappling with this new environment in fresh ways. I would love to hear your thoughts on the CSA Collective