Why a Contingent Workforce Is the Answer to the Blue-Collar Worker Shortage

There have been few successful solutions to the blue-collar worker shortage so far. Here’s why a contingent workforce may be the answer.

blue collar worker

The blue-collar worker shortage has long been a problem for the American economy. Despite the attention the issue has received, there have been few successful solutions. The move toward a more contingent workforce is happening now. This shift will lead to greater pressure on businesses to identify and hire contingent workers who can get the job done.

37% of blue-collar-heavy companies reported a measurable adverse impact of the worker shortage on the company’s profitability versus just 9% of white-collar-heavy companies.

—The Conference Board, 2020

The U.S. workforce shortage—especially for blue-collar workers—is expected to continue through at least 2030, according to a study by The Conference Board. Factors driving the blue-collar workforce shortage include:

  • The baby boomer exodus
  • Dismal growth in the working-age population
  • Disappointing recovery in overall labor force participation
  • Men without a college degree are less likely to work
  • Large increase in disability rates
  • More young adults are avoiding trades, pursuing college instead
  • Young adults are much less likely to be in the labor force

By being open to contingent workers, businesses tap into talent that they might not otherwise gain access to, especially those who may have specific knowledge and training that could be beneficial to their operations. Many businesses are realizing that the quickest and most efficient way to get specialized talent is to hire them as contingent workers. Depending on future needs, these workers can eventually be transitioned into full-time positions.

Offering Greater Flexibility

Flexible working arrangements can also be an asset for a new generation of workers. They may have been recently separated from full-time employment or are reconsidering their career options. People often work on a part-time or temporary basis so that they can pursue other interests or gain experience in their chosen career, with an eye on pursuing a full-time position. The primary reasons temporary workers choose to be temporary workers are:

  • As a method of finding a regular/permanent job or because I thought it might lead to a regular/permanent position, 49%
  • Supplemental income while looking for a regular/permanent position, 11%
  • Supplemental income while not looking for a regular/permanent position, 14%
  • Learning new skills/get work experience, 13%
  • Other, 13%

Source: Staffing Industry Analysts

Expanding Business Operations

The current environment has provided businesses of every size and sector ample opportunity to reconsider their roles in the continued economic recovery. Businesses will focus on diversifying in order to mitigate risk: Some of them may be eager to grow their project base; others may be looking into different markets.

If businesses are considering expanding their geographic footprint or service offerings, contingent workers may be a tremendous asset during this important transition. With contingent workers, businesses can find workers with the specialized skills that they need for a particular project, without having to make a long-term commitment. 

Staying Agile in Uncertain Times

Businesses are increasingly looking for flexibility and scalability to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy and to take advantage of new opportunities. As the business landscape continues to change, the makeup of their workforce will need to adjust as well. A temporary workforce allows for flexibility to adjust as needed, accommodating changes in the industry and financial circumstances that businesses will face in the future.

While every business has its own unique needs based on industry, location and other factors, contingent workers can bridge an important gap as leaders map out their plan of action. As we see more people turn to contingent work as they adapt to the current economic climate, having the ability to find workers and in the future is imperative.  

Need workers for your business? We’re ready to help. When you partner with us, a workforce is always within reach—that’s the power of PeopleReady. Let’s get your job done.

PeopleReady specializes in quick and reliable on-demand labor and highly skilled workers. PeopleReady supports a wide range of blue-collar industries, including construction, manufacturing and logistics, waste and recycling, and hospitality. Leveraging its game-changing JobStack platform and 600-plus branch offices across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, PeopleReady served approximately 98,000 businesses and put more than 221,000 people to work in 2020.