Part One: The state of the Marine Industry work force. [edited]

There’s a huge thought that’s been on my mind the last few months, and after visiting IBEX, I
feel as if I need to address it. Should our main focus really be on millennials for the workforce in
our industry? I am a millennial (30 years old) and I believe we are targeting the wrong group to
fulfill our employment gap.

The millennials age group is 20-36. Most of the older millennials already have college under
their belt, a career and a family. If the younger millennials are in college for a specific career,
would it be reasonable for them to switch their major and school at that point, especially if they
are going into major debt to gain that degree?

That’s why I believe that we need to focus on Generation Z, the ones who are currently
attending Pre-K through High School (with the focus on high schoolers, obviously). All marine
companies need to get in touch with high schools and find a way to target those teens all the
way up to career and graduation day. I have read articles on industry websites where some
companies are already taking the initiative to do this very thing.

Dealerships who sell to families with kids and teens need to find some way to get them more
involved in boating (activities throughout the year), so there’s a possible interest of those
wanting to be in the industry. Not only that, but when the money is earned to make a big
purchase, they will want to spend it with you. I realize this is easier said than done, because it’s
already becoming really hard to get anyone to look away from their electronics these days, let
alone enjoy a day without it.

That’s why I feel that we need to go back to the basics of this industry—it’s all about the
experience. If provided an experience of a lifetime—with or without technology—there’s a sure
bet they’ll be hooked, and for life. Teach them to be the lifestyle.

So what about the millennials? They’ll be used for their current skills—filling roles as
administrative, general employees, marketing, sales or higher up management. However, noting
that it should never be discouraged if they wanted to become skilled technicians or something
where they would need certificates and technical training.

As an industry, we really need to reach out to the Baby Boomers and Generation X before they
retire. They are the ones who hold the most skills and knowledge. We need a program that
allows them to earn money (or some other deal) in exchange for teaching and mentoring the
new employees. For example, we could send a few master skilled techs to cover several areas
of a state to hold one-on-one private sessions, a class or a week’s long program for all younger
techs at the service departments in their assigned area. If the business has been around for
many years—there is a secret—and the key to our future lies in the wisdom of the past.

In addition, our industry would benefit greatly from those who are interested in environmental
and marine studies that keeps the water clean, the ocean animals safe, and to help the world
become more environmental friendly. It should be encouraged to partner up with students or
teachers in these roles to spread the education of fuel issues, safe fishing/boating and anything
marine related that gets looked at by the legislation.

Last but not least, I truly believe that our industry’s employment gap will be bridged if we start
getting attention from the youngest generation right from the start. Once we do that, everything
else will follow.

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