Never a truer word has been spoken. I can remember hearing this phrase growing up, “If you can work with your hands, you will never starve”. Unfortunately, we are not hearing this much today.
I was born in 1966 and people my age are considered the Gen X generation and were born between 1965-1976. We are the generation following the Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964.
Many of my mentors and peers fall within the baby boomer generation. Their work ethic is stellar, their knowledge and experience are incredible, and they do not mind getting their hands dirty. The challenge for us is, as the boomers are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, what’s going to happen when the 65 Million baby boomers retire? Not far behind are the Gen X folks who will need to find and train their replacements.
The next generations, the Millennials (born between 1977-1992) and the Generation Z (born between 1993–2014), have little interest in the trades. There has been a measurable decline in trade professionals in America’s workforce, as more young adults are choosing to attend college vs trade schools.
Skilled-trade positions are suffering from a bit of an “image problem” with younger generations. Millennials, in particular, stigmatize blue-collar jobs. They’ve been raised to value education, and on the whole, they consider skilled trades jobs to be mindless, dirty and dangerous.
With this glaring issue facing the trades, it begets the main question: how do we get the future generations excited about careers in the trades and help them understand the future opportunities available for them?
As we discuss this issue internally, Lima Company has begun developing an initiative to attract the future generations to the trades. There is something to be said for ‘learning as you’re earning’ and we need to get that message out. Using a boating adage, we truly believe a rising tide lifts all boats.
To summarize our initiative, it includes: grass roots prospecting for potential apprentices, educating on future industry growth, training on technology and advances, field mentoring, social responsibility programs and providing opportunities for young people to experience a variety of trades and professions available to them.
Currently, Lima Company is employing 3 generations including Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. We continue to better understand the multigenerational workforce and implement our plan to continually download the decades of knowledge and experience to our younger generations. We are all teachers, every day.
One last thought, if the numbers don’t lie and continue to trend downward over the next decade, trade labor supply will go down, trade labor demand will go up and professional trade technicians will be in high demand. High demand equals higher pay scales and that is very attractive for our younger generations.