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Four Tips for Attracting Generation Z to Skilled Trade Jobs

Thu September 14, 2023 - National Edition #20
Kevin Smith, Bobcat Company

Skilled trades and the tradespeople responsible for this work have long been an important part of our society — responsible for building, repairing and maintaining many facets of our everyday life. However, over the years, fewer people are entering these professions.

Generation Z — the generation born between 1997 and 2012 — have gravitated toward college degrees or careers in technology. To bridge the gap and ensure the continued success of skilled trades, it's important to attract new workers into these rewarding professions. While there are many approaches, here are four tips to help skilled trade jobs appeal to younger generations.

Support Skilled Trade Education

In a society that tends to prioritize college education, it's important to advocate for a cultural shift. Parents and educators play a vital role in sharing the many career paths available and give skilled trade career paths the same reverence and attention as higher education.

Gen Z and younger generations face financial challenges, including student loan debt and the rising cost of living. Many are seeking well-paying careers that don't necessarily require a traditional four-year degree. Skilled trade jobs offer just that.

It's also important to note the earning potential within the skilled trades. Tradespeople can earn competitive wages, and those with specialized skills often command even higher pay. Providing real-world examples of successful tradespeople who have achieved financial stability can motivate Gen Z to consider these professions as viable and lucrative career choices.

Establish Connections With the Youth

Businesses and professionals can encourage Gen Z and younger generations to consider trade careers by engaging with them early, even during their formative years in middle and high school.

By highlighting their specific businesses and the industry, they can capture the attention and interest of potential future employees.

One of the key ways we support this as an organization is by supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for students at an early age — whether that be grants, mentorship, education and more.

A growing number of businesses today also are making connections within trade schools to tap into tomorrow's workforce. Companies are engaging students through internships, pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships, curriculum support and other creative ways that not only help prepare students for skilled trade jobs, but also create an avenue to fill their open positions.

Embrace Technology

Gen Z is a tech-savvy generation. Growing up with the latest technology from a young age, it plays a significant role in their lives. One of the most effective ways to attract Gen Z to skilled trade jobs is by embracing technology in the workplace. Integrating modern tools and software into skilled trades can make these jobs more appealing.

For instance, construction sites are now using drones for site surveys and 3D printing for faster and more precise building processes. Manufacturing facilities, like Bobcat, leverage robotics in the factories for increased efficiency and precision.

By highlighting these tech-driven aspects, you can show Gen Z that skilled trades are not only hands-on but also forward-thinking and adaptable.

Foster Opportunities for Development

Personal and professional growth is important for all generations, and Gen Z is no different. By offering a career with clear pathways for advancement, young professionals can understand the opportunities available.

Mentors or managers of young employees may consider a coaching approach over a more authoritarian method to guide and partner with young professionals on their career journey.

By demonstrating the potential for career progression and the chance to acquire valuable skills, you can make skilled trades a more appealing option for Gen Z job seekers.

As you embark on the journey of investing in your workforce, remember that you are contributing to the transformation of young individuals into seasoned professionals. This transformation is not solely limited to their careers but extends to their role in society. Nurturing the potential of the millennial and Gen Z workforce requires a more engaging, compassionate and communicative approach — one that brings out the best in them as they work alongside you to build a brighter future.

Attracting Gen Z to skilled trade jobs requires creativity and adaptability. By supporting skilled trade education, establishing connections with students as they explore careers, embracing technology and fostering development opportunities, you can make these essential professions more appealing to the younger generation. With their enthusiasm and fresh perspectives, Gen Z has the potential to breathe new life into the skilled trades and ensure a prosperous future for these industries.

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