A new workforce

As we put our April issue to bed and await its arrival in mailboxes, the workforce problem in the marine industry is still taking up a significant amount of my brain space. What can we do to address the issue? How can we attract young people to working in the marine trades?

One thing we absolutely need to do is reimagine what the marine industry workforce will look like. The demographics of Baby Boomers in the U.S. are noticeably different than the Millennials and the younger generation coming up next (overly used generational nickname to be determined). Therefore, the pool of prospects we are working with is naturally very different.

According to Pew Research Center data, this means hiring more immigrants. The largest segment of working-age adults – those born in the U.S. whose parents were also born here – is projected to decline from 2015 to 2035 by 8.2 million workers. This will be partially offset by an increase in the number of working-age U.S.-born adults with immigrant parents, who are projected to increase by 11.1 million by 2035.

Even further, the number of working-age immigrants is projected to increase from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035, with new immigrant arrivals accounting for all of that gain.

The Pew Research Center projections for foreign-born working-age adults are based on current rates of immigration, combining lawful and unauthorized. They assume that two-thirds of immigrants arriving through 2035 will be ages 25 to 64, as is true of today’s new immigrants.

So how do we attract these young people to our industry? It is simply reaching out to these students and communities in the same way you would reach other future employees. For tips on how to do this, through success stories from other industry businesses, be sure to pick up our April issue.

But it also means being mindful that your businesses and educational programs are inviting and comfortable to all employees and students. For instance, if someone makes an offhand joke about immigrants and no one tells that individual the joke was inappropriate, those students or employees may not feel welcome and decide to leave.

This is not to say the boating industry is failing in these measures. But it is important to keep in mind that the demographics of our current workforce look noticeably different than the younger generations coming up. We need to do everything we can to make sure they are introduced to marine trades as a viable career, and feel welcome and capable of success in our industry, because we desperately need their participation.

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