Generations of change

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Eric Aune Mechanical HubI am soon to be 39, that makes me a GenX’er I guess. I never really understood the whole labeling thing but I digress.

There’s a cool discussion happening on started by Hub friend and longtime hydronics guru Hot Rod about how Millennials as a generation now outnumber Baby Boomers. It’s in the national spotlight as well and it’s a very interesting topic, I’ve got some thoughts of my own to share.

I cannot speak for everyone participating in the conversation but when I read Hot Rod’s post the topic of our aging skilled trade workers was top of mind and I would suspect some others thought that as well. Of course this topic often brings comparisons of work ethic and attitudes with the usual negative connotation in tow. I hate that, for the record.

I was able to attend the most recent Uponor convention where a Ryan Avery, an outstanding example of many millennials, spoke about his own generation. He’s a professional public speaker so you can imagine the message was delivered well but consider too the average age of those attending. It more closely aligned with those born in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. He made some very good points demonstrating the differences between Boomers and Millennials but what might be more eye opening were the similarities and how the millennials have grown to be who they are.

I know many and have millennials working for me. My take on the stereotype is that the very people who created it have perpetuated it; the parents of the millennials. I agree with one of the ideas shared, that there is already a huge segment of this population already working very hard. So what if they aren’t “getting their hands dirty”? Their parents told them not to! What should be expected of a generation taught that the only way to a better life was along the path of a college degree? The short answer; exactly what we’re getting. Which by the way isn’t all that different than all the other generations before them. There are plenty of people from my generation that don’t want to work. The same can be said of my parent’s generation. The difference then was a swift kick and a locked door to force forward movement and positive contributions to society.

This generation wasn’t raised that way. Their parents, the majority at least, aren’t kicking them out or forcing them to do anything and that’s not the millennial’s fault.

Erin Holohan Haskel was spot on with the comment about millennials and the difficulty of entering a the workforce that offers lower employment opportunities, piles of debt and the burden of a stereotype such as it is. The college degree propagandist has made quite the impact here.

We’d all be better off learning more about this generation and how better to work with them than to sit around complaining about the things we don’t like simply because they’re different than ourselves. Different doesn’t have to mean bad; don’t confuse that with ignorance, for either party involved.

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