Let's take a look at a few of the skills that can be honed through the arts, and how they can play out in future careers:
1) Creativity - Art is creative, it taps the other side of our brain, and it helps us think differently. The 21st Century worker is going to be able to need to think creatively to problem solve, and to see the ways in which skills are transferable from one setting to another. It doesn't matter if you are a factory worker in electronics who needs to think about wiring harnesses differently, a preschool teacher who needs to think about new ways to expose their students to the world at large, or if you are a landscaper who needs to deal with unusual hindrances in terms of climate, specific location, and plant type, creativity is needed in all kinds of jobs!
2) Design - Learning color, shape and form with drawing, painting, sculpting and more can help train the mind's eye to "see" what others may not. Oh my goodness, the number of jobs this can be used in is almost countless! Finish carpentry, interior decorating, tile setting, landscaping, graphic designing, web site designing, taxidermy, sheet metal working, quilting, and so much more! And those are outside the arts themselves, which also don't require a degree!
3) Brain and Physical Flexibility - Music and art both help create new pathways in the brain, wiring it differently. It has been scientifically proven that music training can help increase memory and increases coordination. Far too many Blue Collar jobs require physical coordination to even list here, but the hand eye coordination involved in learning a new instrument, training in dance, or other arts activities can help tremendously with movement.
4) Teaches Discipline - I know, I know...the whole world revolves around sports, right? Football, baseball, basketball, and other sports are the only way in which many people think kids can learn discipline or teamwork which is needed in just about any career, Blue Collar or otherwise. Such a bias against the arts has existed for a very long time, but is uniquely prevalent here in the US. Try being a member of a marching band and not be good at teamwork! Try mastering any artistic technique and not learn discipline! Try learning a new dance routine you have to learn over and over again and not learn BOTH teamwork and discipline! Funny, but as I write this, I see a parallel between the cultural bias against the arts just as there is a cultural bias against trades...so sad that we limit ourselves this way!
5) Public Speaking/Performance - Being involved in a drama class, or performing in front of a crowd in a symphony or during a piano recital teaches one to "take the heat" of being on display...now imagine that skill being transferred to presenting a job proposal for a large construction job, or being a fire rescue working who has to go from school to school to share about fire safety. Again, there are a million ways we use the arts to learn skills that are put to use in our daily Blue Collar lives!
One final point I would add, though will not place on my list is that being well educated matters regardless of white or blue collar futures. Having cultural knowledge keeps us from being left out, from being not "in the know". Every child ought to have a fundamental knowledge of how to read music, of how to blend colors, and should be able to recognize major works and styles of arts and artists, composers and styles of music...they ought to be able to name jazz when they hear it, name the Blues when they hear it, name various instruments when they hear them played. That is simply part of being a well rounded human being with foundational knowledge.
I could go on and on, but I hope I have offered you a new way of thinking about the value of the arts in our Blue Collar Kids' lives!!