Beyond the Filth of "Dirty Jobs"
Supporting the bustling lives of white-collar workers, a 12% minority sullies their hands to keep the first-world country in top shape. CATCH finds out the odd jobs that are under-appreciated and the motivations for its workers
Words & Illustrations by Debra
“Dirty jobs” like construction work and road sweeping were common amongst locals in the 1960s. For the past five decades, our grandparents have toiled for at least half their lives to build the very literal foundation of our nation.
If our forefathers built a family with these jobs, then why can’t we?
With the rapid modernisation of our nation, Singaporeans today are urged to do well in school academically or holistically. The mindset of “dirty jobs” like garbage collection and sewage cleaning as “low-class”, unappealing, and unsustainable to the typical lifestyle of a 1st world nation plagues modern Singaporeans today.
Due to the persistent outlook of these jobs being commonplace amongst Singaporeans, workers in the industry are often looked down on by the general public. The last thing anyone would want to introduce themselves with is that they clean up human waste and garbage for a living. Despite the efforts of media sources to make these jobs appealing, many citizens still fixate themselves onto the negative outlook of these “dirty jobs”.
Instead, many of these jobs are often filled with foreign immigrants.
Generally required to work alongside bugs, rats, dust or even dead bodies, it’s only natural for many of us to avoid said jobs. For the 12% minority, it is not a choice for them.
Often from countries like India, Vietnam, and China, these individuals would travel at least 2 hours by plane to get to our clean and green island, which are the fruits of their labour, too. These foreign workers go through a lengthy process to ensure a place in the occupation.
Many of these blue-collared workers have a common motivation – company. Most of these workers are motivated to take up the job to support their family financially. With the Singapore Dollar being approximately the 12th highest currency in the world, citizens of these countries are able to earn a veritable income often twice of regular wages in their country.
To cast away the “unrefined” label of these jobs, it is paramount that the society first fosters a sense of appreciation for these jobs. Singaporeans should learn about the hard work that goes into each of these occupations, and how they contribute to the operations of the country. The pros of the occupation could then be highlighted, encouraging some to widen their perspectives and consider the prospects its prospects.
Singaporeans may appear cold and harsh towards these “low-skill” jobs, but they seem to appreciate the effort of these workers silently. But perhaps we should be more verbal and expressive when conveying our appreciation.
A simple “thank you” could mean a world of difference.