What Is a Gold-Collar Worker?

What Is a Gold-Collar Worker?

Length: 2006 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
What Is a Gold-Collar Worker?


A Higher Level of Knowledge Work. Kelley (1990) described an old distinction that divided the work force into blue-collar and white-collar workers. Blue-collar workers typically did manual labor in a factory for hourly pay, whereas white-collar workers did knowledge work in an office on salary. However, changes in the nature of work and the workplace have led to large growth in the numbers of a particular kind of knowledge worker—the gold-collar worker, whose most valuable assets are problem-solving abilities, creativity, talent, and intelligence; who performs nonrepetitive and complex work that is difficult to evaluate; and who prefers self-management. The gold-collar worker is, for example, the computer engineer as opposed to a lower-level knowledge worker such as an input operator. Kelley pointed out that even though the name is new, there have always been gold-collar workers like designers, researchers, analysts, engineers, and lawyers.

Learning, Teams, and Strategic Thinking. Wood (2001) characterized gold-collar workers in information technology (IT) similarly by focusing on qualitative matters. Gold-collar IT workers learn continually from experience. They recognize the synergy of teams and can demonstrate leadership; they are strategic thinkers who see the big picture and can change strategic directions when necessary. They have a portable, flexible skill base relevant to a variety of work environments and maintain that skill base through their own personal development, with well-connected networks of contacts at the leading edge.

Interdisciplinary Knowledge. Where business and science intersect, the basic focus of the gold-collar worker is interdisciplinary knowledge and experience (Bartlett 1998; Todaro 2001; Van Nierop and Bow 1997). This interdisciplinary focus combines scientific or other technical knowledge and skills with business literacy to result in a gold-collar worker with expertise across several areas. Gold-collar engineers, chemists, biologists, physicists, or geoscientists understand the relationship between their scientific discipline and business, have the management and financial knowledge needed for a business environment, and can "marry" science and entrepreneurship.

Other Characterizations. Roe (2001) called the gold-collar worker "a highly skilled multidisciplinarian who combines the mind of the white-collar worker with the hands of the blue-collar employee" (p. 32); examples include aircraft systems maintenance technicians, network administrators, and advanced manufacturing technicians. A similar case would be online customer service representatives (CSRs), for whom managing customer relationships now involves not only oral communication but also text-based Internet chat and e-mail about tough questions not answered in frequently asked questions or canned e-mail responses (Dicksteen 2001).

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"What Is a Gold-Collar Worker?." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Nov 2018
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=35959>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Gold Rush Paper

- One moment the California creek beds glimmered with gold; the next, the same creeks ran red with the blood of men and women defending their claims or ceding their bags of gold dust to bandits. The "West" was a ruthless territory during the nineteenth century. With more than enough gold dust to go around early in the Gold Rush, crime was rare, but as the stakes rose and the easily panned gold dwindled, robbery and murder became a part of life on the frontier. The "West" consisted of outlaws, gunfighters, lawmen, whores, and vigilantes....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1328 words (3.8 pages)

Unemployment On Black Collar Workers And White Collar Worker Essay

- Unemployment in the Family Most people will eventually have to get a job, become employed to pay bills and help support themselves and their family. However, for many people unemployment can go from being something on a shelf in the back of their mind to reality at any point. Unemployment, defined as “the state of not having a job”, can affect any person or family at any time (Merriam-Webster). Unemployment, as we have seen in the past, has no boundaries and can help bring a nation crumbling down....   [tags: White-collar worker, Blue-collar worker, Marriage]

Research Papers
2525 words (7.2 pages)

Rhetorical Analysis Of ' The ' First Eat All The Lawyers ' Essay

- Torie Boschs “First eat all the lawyers” appeared in Slate october 2011. Her piece was to reach out to horror fans and to explain to them why zombies are a great monsters in current media. Zombie fanatics who read this short essay will love her vast knowledge of zombies while others who still do not understand why zombies are horribly terrifying can get behind her argument. Bosch explains that the current zombie craze has to do with our current society and how white-collar workers would be left defenceless in a world over run with a rampant horde of zombies....   [tags: White-collar worker, Blue-collar worker]

Research Papers
1358 words (3.9 pages)

Is Gold A Precious Metal That Within Any Community? Essay

- ... However, the turning point was the way the environment was being effected by the means of destroying the land to get to the gold barred into the ground. Over all the gold rush was looked at as a great passage in the right direction for developing a modern world but it ended up leading us backwards, back into an era where monarchy rules the world. The daily life of a miner was far from perfect. The papers and other means of propaganda had portrayed getting rich quick, but it was far from easy....   [tags: California Gold Rush, Gold, Gold rush, Money]

Research Papers
1093 words (3.1 pages)

Analysis of Barrick Gold Corporation Issues Essay

- Barrick Gold Corporation is the chief gold mining corporation in the globe, with its head office in Toronto, Canada. It has 4 local business components placed in South America, Africa, Australia, and North America. Barrick is at present doing mining, as well as examining projects in New Guinea, the U.S, and Chile among other states. Barrick is occupied with the manufacture and auction of gold, furthermore to related actions. Barrick as well, hold interests in oil and gas possessions positioned in Canada....   [tags: gold mining, barrick gold, dominican republic]

Research Papers
1852 words (5.3 pages)

White Collar Crimes in America Essay

- Throughout history there have been many white collar crimes. These crimes are defined as non-violent and financial-based crimes that are full ranges of fraud committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are not victimless nor unnoticed. A single scandal can destroy a company and can lose investors millions of dollars. Today, fraud schemes are more sophisticated than ever, and through studying: Enron, LIBOR, Albert Wiggan and Chase National Bank, Lehman Brothers and Madoff, we find how the culprits started there deception, the aftermath of the scandal and what our country has done to prevent future scandals....   [tags: White Collar Crimes Essays]

Research Papers
3036 words (8.7 pages)

Essay on California Gold Rush

- The California gold rush began on January 24, 1848, in the Sacramento Valley. The first sight of gold nuggets found during the Gold Rush was located in the American River, by James W. Marshall. After the news of the gold became known the tidings spread quickly. Information about Jame's discovery caused thousands of immigrants to migrate, changing the nation forever. Citizens living in California were especially provoked with this, due to their homes being intruded on. Before the gold was first found in 1848 the estimated population was less than 1,000 people....   [tags: Sacramento Valley, Gold, American History]

Research Papers
1166 words (3.3 pages)

Barrick Gold Corporation Essay

- Barrick Gold Corporation is among the largest gold mining companies in the world, with their headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The co-founder and the chairman of the company is known as Peter Munk, while Jamie C. Sokalsky is the President and the Chief Executive Officer of the Company. One of the visions of the company is to be the world’s best Gold mining company operating in a safe, profitable and responsible manner. Part of the key to success is due to its ability to maintain cash flow, while improving production and increasing its reserves of gold-containing property, thus making Barrick to achieve a record growth in cash flow, production and reserves (www.barrick.com)....   [tags: gold mining, company, ethics, local community]

Research Papers
2092 words (6 pages)

The Gold Rush of California Essay

- In the United States, there would be a new overhaul to its identity. By 1848, businesses would eventually see a new and prosperous way to make money. The U.S. also began to see a few cultures begin to spark and the attitudes of people would change, especially their views about taking risks. This overhaul is known as the Gold Rush of California. The Gold Rush made an impact on American society through diversity and people.      The traditional beginning of the Gold Rush was the story of James Marshall....   [tags: The California Gold Rush]

Free Essays
3391 words (9.7 pages)

The Collar Essay

- The Collar George Herbert was born on April 3, 1593 at Montgomery Castle, the fifth son of an eminent Welsh family. Herbert's religious beliefs caused him to be an active opponent of the puritans and the Calvinists. Herbert became the cannon of Lincoln Cathedral and in 1630 he took holy orders. During the years Herbert spent at Bemerton he worked on a collection of verses known as The Temple. Upon his death they published the manuscript. The poem "The Collar" is a complaint voiced by person embittered against the constraints that bind him....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
803 words (2.3 pages)

Related Searches

Others describe gold-collar workers as those in high-skill, high-wage, high-demand occupations that require less than a bachelor's degree—for example, chemical process industry (CPI) operators and technicians (Shanley and Crabb 1999); or electrical power line installers, telephone and cable TV installers, plumbers, pipefitters, and electricians (Raffaele 2001). Some consider older workers, with their irreplaceable fund of knowledge and experience, to be the gold-collar work force ("Gold-Collar Workers" 2001).

What Do They Share? Although those characterizations are different, they share some common themes:

For gold-collar workers, knowledge is not just having information; it is using information—to solve problems, to create solutions and strategies, to learn from experience.
Gold-collar workers typically use knowledge from more than one area. In some cases, gold-collar knowledge crosses formal, academic disciplines like science and business; in others, occupationally specific technical knowledge is used in combination with more general process, communication, and learning-to-learn skills.
Gold-collar workers tend to be autonomous. Traditional gold-collar professionals (engineers, lawyers) have always enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. With the disappearance of much middle management, newer gold-collar workers like online CSRs and CPI operators, formerly considered skilled trades, often perform work once done by degreed professionals.

Gold-collar workers tend to work in traditionally male occupations like engineering, law, or IT. Traditionally female occupations involving comparable knowledge work (e.g., nursing or teaching) don't receive the accolade "gold collar."
However they are characterized, gold-collar workers are in great demand. Whether a top Visual Basic programmer in IT, a physicist with an MBA, or a 60-year-old who chooses to cut back rather than retire, gold-collar workers are sought, recruited, and hired—sometimes so eagerly that they can write their own ticket.
Implications for Employers and Educators
The characteristics of gold-collar workers, coupled with the great demand for them, raise human resource development issues for employers (Holland, Hecker, and Steen 2002). Appropriate organizational policy and structures are needed to manage, recruit, and retain gold-collar workers; in addition, both employers and educators may need to reorient traditional thinking to educate and increase the pool of gold-collar workers.


Managing Gold-Collar Workers

According to Peter F. Drucker (cited in Bunk 1999), knowledge is the principal resource of the 21st century, and knowledge is fundamentally different from the traditional resources of labor, raw materials, or capital. Unlike information, which can be computer generated, knowledge is in the minds of workers and arises from their own cognition and insight; knowledge workers own the primary tool of their own work and can take that tool with them if they change jobs. That knowledge is dynamic, and the goal of management should be enhancing, exchanging, and using it effectively rather than preserving and systematizing it like a static resource. A more productive approach to managing gold-collar workers includes concentrating on end results by setting goals rather than controlling the processes involved. Goals provide guidance and help ensure that workers don't stray too far into the details of bench work, for example. At the same time, they can allow the leeway and flexibility necessary for exploring and tinkering, from which new solutions, new strategies, and new learning result. Managers should use their own judgment to determine when and if more detailed plans and regular updates to monitor progress are needed.

In particular, managers must recognize that the scientific management theories and tools to handle unskilled, Industrial Age, assembly-line workers are not appropriate for the nonrepetitive and complex work activities of gold-collar workers (Kelley 1990). The planning, scheduling, and quality control necessary to monitor progress should be a cross-functional team effort among all workers involved; written progress reports should be kept to a minimum and replaced insofar as possible by brief onsite meetings, one on one or with the work team as a whole. Time management techniques should allow workers to focus both on important and urgent tasks as well as on the important but often less urgent major knowledge tasks of the team; uninterrupted periods of concentration should be preserved. To minimize or avoid the ego problems sometimes experienced with talented workers, groups can set norms for social behavior, allowing somewhat greater latitude for emotions and behavior. Individual work and contributions should receive regular recognition—and at the same time, constructive criticism must be sought, accepted, and used. Power struggles over turf can be avoided by challenging assignments to stretch individual abilities, team rather than independent work, and rewards for group performance in addition to individual performance. Managers can bend organizational rules, allowing departures from the letter of the rule in favor of performance and results that accomplish the spirit of the rule. Put another way (Curtin 1995), gold-collar workers want a transformational leader who has charisma, who represents an ideal they can assimilate and adopt, and who provides the stimulation and individualized consideration they need to become more than they were.


Recruiting and Retaining Gold-Collar Workers

Writing before the economic downturn of 2000-01, Munk (1998) contrasted William H. Whyte's Organization Man, under the old employment contract of "loyalty in exchange for lifetime employment and a gold watch" (p. 68), with younger gold-collar workers who are "educated, smart, creative, computer literate, equipped with portable skills—and demanding" (p. 64) and who view work "as a hobby that you happen to get paid for" (p. 65). Although hardly indifferent to financial compensation, the new Organization Man—and Woman—are more concerned with nonfinancial rewards and benefits in the workplace, such as a casual and informal work environment, flexible work schedules to accommodate their personal lives, and even part- or full-time telecommuting; they're more likely to want to bring their pet to work and less likely to be interested in onsite child care, 401(k)s, and retirement plans. Perhaps most important, the portability of their skills and the widespread demand for them often allow them to be opportunistic. To be competitive, employers often must offer significant signing bonuses and high starting salaries to recruit such gold-collar workers—and large raises on demand to retain them in the face of other job offers. Whether or not the expectations of such gold-collar workers might change in a tighter job market is open to question.


Increasing the Pool of Gold-Collar Workers

Many commentators have voiced concerns about current shortages of gold-collar workers and about forecasts of even greater need for them in the future. Shortages may, in part, be attributed to stereotypical thinking based on superficial, outward characteristics—race, ethnic background, gender, and dress, for example (Sadler 1994). Women are underrepresented in many gold-collar areas, particularly IT (Yelland 2001), and in other traditionally male occupations like CPI operators; minorities are often overlooked as well (Shanley and Crabb 1999). Likewise, bachelor's degree holders, often unable to find work in their fields and forced into low-pay, low-skill service jobs, should be considered as promising candidates for an operator's position, not as deficient or unambitious (ibid.). Older workers, otherwise on the verge of retirement, should not be overlooked; not only are they an increasing proportion of the population, they also represent a valuable source of wisdom and experience ("Gold-Collar Workers" 2001).


Educating Gold-Collar Workers

Training new workers and retraining older adults should be part of a work force development system integrating initial education, postsecondary education, and ongoing training throughout life (Raffaele 2001). Traditional bachelor's and graduate degree programs may need to expand their focus beyond a single academic discipline and should help students acquire skills not typically covered in academic programs, such as communication skills for a nonspecialist audience and the economics of high-technology operations (Todaro 2001). And new models of delivery may be essential for a 21st-century gold-collar work force—for example, web-based distance education developed and delivered by a partnership combining technical support and subject-matter expertise (Michigan Virtual Automotive College n.d.).

To sum up…The multiskilled, knowledge-based, gold-collar worker, using information to solve problems and create solutions, is highly valued and likely to become even more so. Employers and educators need new ways to manage, recruit, retain, and educate them.



References


Bartlett, K. "Gold-Collar Workers." Geotimes 43, no. 12 (December 1998): 14.

Bunk, S. "How to Manage Knowledge and 'Gold Collar Workers.'" The Scientist 13, no. 3 (February 1, 1999): 16-17. <http://www.the-scientist.com/yr1999/feb/prof_990201.html>

Curtin, L. H. "The 'Gold Collar' Leader…?" Nursing Management 26, no. 10 (October 1995): 7-8.

Dicksteen, L. N. "'Gold Collar' CSRs." Catalog Age 18, no. 7 (June 2001): 141-142.

"Gold-Collar Workers: The New Workforce." UWS News, September 20, 2001, online, n.p. <http://www.uws.edu.au/media/news/?more=40>

Holland, P. J.; Hecker, R.; and Steen, J. "Human Resource Strategies and Organisational Structures for Managing Gold-Collar Workers." Journal of European Industrial Training 26, nos. 2-4 (2002): 80.

Kelley, R. E. "Managing the New Workforce." Machine Design 62, no 9 (May 10, 1990): 109-113.

Michigan Virtual Automotive College <http://www.mvac.org/>.

Munk, N. "The New Organization Man." Fortune 137, no. 5 (March 16, 1998): 62-66, 68, 72, 74.

Raffaele, M. "Panel Suggests Ways to Improve Work Force." The Sunday Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA), December 9, 2001, p. B14.

Roe, M. A. "Cultivating the Gold-Collar Worker." Harvard Business Review 79, no. 5 (May 2001): 32-33.

Sadler, P. "Gold Collar Workers: What Makes Them Play at Their Best?" Personnel Management 26, no. 4 (April 1994): 28-31.

Shanley, A., and Crabb, C. "Who Will Operate Your Plant?" Chemical Engineering 106, no. 2 (February 1999): 30-31.

Todaro, R. M. "New Programs Push Business Education for Scientists." APS News Online 10, no. 8 (August-September 2001): 7. <http://www.aps.org/apsnews/0801/aug01new.pdf>

Van Nierop, M., and Bow, P. UW Launches Innovative Science and Business Program. Release No. 145. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo, 1997. <http://www.adm.uwaterloo.ca:80/infonews/release/1996>

Wood, B. Staying on Top of the Tree in IT—Part 1. Melbourne, Australia: Index Technology Recruiters, 2001. <http://www.mdccs.com.au/news/treetop.html>

Yelland, P. "Girls, Too, Can Wear Gold Collars." The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia), March 27, 2001, online, n.p. <http://members.ozemail.com.au/~yellandp/2001>
Return to 123HelpMe.com