Vail Daily column: Millennials take the torch
A couple weekends ago, I attended a health fair in Glenwood Spring. While there I had struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers from the Lions Club, P.J. I came to learn that P.J. was a Vietnam veteran and a retired social studies teacher with a 26-year-old son who does not share his work ethic. This gentleman was a bit despondent that his son had chosen a life direction so different from that of what was role modeled to him.
The Millennial generation — ages between 18 to 34 — now represent the largest generation in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this year, there will be about 74.9 million Baby Boomers while Millennials may number 75.3 million.
Employers who will be looking to hire new and young talent to replace the Boomers that are leaving the work place are going to have to adjust how they hire and what they offer to retain employees. Responding to this challenge is opening up new opportunities for burgeoning businesses. Student recruiters and businesses of all sizes are spending big dollars to learn how to attract potential Millennial employees.
Who is going to replace the jobs as the Boomer generation leaves the workplace? Over the past couple of years, I have presented research indicating that Baby Boomers may become quite reliant on both the Gen X and the Millennial generations to provide services for them as they age. Some research has indicated that the size of the workforce available to provide services for the elderly is diminishing and may become a serious factor. Further, because Gen X and Millennial generations are having fewer children, there “will be relatively fewer people to pay the taxes necessary to support public programs for the older population and fewer people to provide the services that older people need” (Oxford Journals Medicine & Health-International Journal of Epidemiology).
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Here in the mountain communities, we are all too aware that many of our young people who leave to go away to college do not often come back. This is going to cause local businesses the need to become quite creative in recruiting and retention efforts.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, has been studying the growth of Millennial numbers in suburbs and cities. In an article he wrote in 2013, he stated, “At this point, the prognosis does not look good for much of small-town America.”
Their entrance to the work place and economic impact to our local communities will be profound. If we do not entice our graduating high school and college children in to staying in our mountain communities, then we may lose them to the opportunities in big cities.
In effort to keep this generation from relocating, our mountain communities must provide jobs that offer career advancement and enable them to afford reasonable priced housing and rent.
Our mountain communities already offer much of the desires of this next generation. Our fantastic recreational activities, fresh mountain air, a respect for the environment and other people are only a few of the things we offer within our community.
It is not just the lure of cities and bright lights — young people are having to leave in search of jobs or housing or, having left for further or higher education, see no opportunities here
Millennials are showing a great interest in organizations that help others, improve the communities in which they live, and make the world a better and safer place. As employers look to hiring the next generation of employees, they are going to have to make an effort to understand what is important to and valued by the generation.
P.J. conveyed that prior to his parent’s passing, his son chose to leave Colorado and moved in with his grandparents so he could help them remain at home. His son’s willingness to assist his grandparents as they aged into their 80s and 90s appears to be shared by others within the Millennial generation. During the health fair, I heard similar stories from parents of Millennials. On two separate occasions, a parent came up to our vendor table and asked if we were hiring. One of the parents shared with me that her son would be looking for a job once he returned to Colorado mid-May. She mentioned to me that her son had chosen to take care of her father as he aged and suffered through dementia.
Fortunately for our seniors, it appears that the Millennial generation has a sincere appreciation for our environment and concern for elders. This may be the saving grace for how services can be provided in the future.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.