Aging workforce retirements are occurring at an accelerated pace in the United States and globally. In fact, Mike Rowe’s foundation, mikeroweWORKS, identifies more than 3 million open jobs right now requiring skills and technical-based training. For those of us employed by a company reliant on employees possessing specialized skills or technical experience, this situation is real and concerning. So, where are these future, skilled employees supposed to come from? Perhaps the majority of them are sitting in high school classes across the United States, quickly approaching a critical and often uncomfortable decision point — choosing educational next steps. The statistical information detailing the skills gap is abundant. Having the tribal knowledge to communicate skills-based opportunities to the current high school generation is somewhat lacking.
The iGeneration, those born from 1997 to the present, self-brand at a young age using social media sites. Their parents are pragmatic Gen-Xers, and they only know a country at war. The skills gap issue is just another “problem” against which they have become calloused. They are intelligent but need guidance seeing an honest and happy future image of themselves in the workforce. Good guidance requires good communication, and this is where a group of millennials stepped up to help.
Werner Electric Supply assembled a team of professional, technical millennials (born 1980 to 1996), and each was asked to think back on their recent journey and mine one gem of information they thought might aid the iGens. They took the issue to heart and provided a comprehensive list of suggestions.
On reaching this generation: Use social media, take an indirect, non-threatening approach, be aware and prepare yourself at a much earlier age for future decisions. Ask schools to offer corporate outreach programs. Explore play technologies. Build functioning labs. Assure pursuing lower-cost schools, e.g., technical colleges or certification programs, is okay. Treat students as adults; do not talk down to them nor act pretentious.
On communicating with this generation: These kids are intelligent and understand the difference between a two-year and four-year education. Acknowledge the pros and cons of each track. Help them understand all the financial options and responsibilities of education balanced against a given occupational income. Increase their awareness and knowledge of the industrial world and the many skilled occupations these facilities employ. The cool, shiny, flashing things used in demos gain their attention, allow them to ask how things work and teach them to listen intently to the answers. Use critical thinking.
On motivating this generation: Link types of classes they enjoy with strength-based career matrixes, and make real professionals available to share with them. Take advantage of opportunities to test career paths through job shadowing, attend more college/career fairs to solidify school and career path decisions. Pursue opportunities that provide for multiple career experiences. Meet employees who can share job information, life and work style examples, and explain overtime (time matters), benefits, job environments and culture. Do your own research and avoid letting someone else direct your path.
On convincing this generation: Organize small group sit-downs and teach them how to grow in their efforts, explain to them on a personal level why you love your selected occupation and the rewards. Show them that “technology” means more than IT and includes robotics, motion control, electronic system development, process control, programming, medical, facilities, and so much more. Introduce students to real people working in the trades who provide honest feedback and success stories. Set realistic goals — you do not have to be pigeonholed into an undesirable job. You can stop any track you are on and start a new one at any time. Opportunities exist in the skilled trades and can be just as beneficial and rewarding as a four-year education.
Product Manager – Process Control
E, Srini, and About Srini ESrini Is a Born “writer Wannabe” And, like Most of Us, Never Made Any Attempt to Write. Not Only Because His Thoughts Are Clumsy but Also Due to His Disgusted Friends Warning Him Not to Pen His Thoughts, Ever! But That Said, He Welcomes All. “Five Life Lessons I Learned From Millennials -.” The Good Men Project. N.p., 20 Jan. 2017. Web.
Kulp, Patrick. “Post-millennials Get a Controversial Moniker: The Homeland Generation.” Mashable. Mashable, 12 May 2015. Web. 01 Sept. 2017.
MikeroweWORKS Foundation. http://mikerowe.com/, n.d. Web.