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Back To School: Find Your Future Workforce Now

The job market was grim during the mid-1990s when I graduated from college. At my first job, I was barely making minimum wage working as a newspaper reporter. But after pounding the pavement for three months following graduation, I was extremely thankful just to have a job–especially a job in my field of interest.

The job market was grim during the mid-1990s when I graduated from college. At my first job, I was barely making minimum wage working as a newspaper reporter. But after pounding the pavement for three months following graduation, I was extremely thankful just to have a job–especially a job in my field of interest.For the first time in a very long time there’s no shortage of jobs for today’s graduates, and there isn’t going to be one in the foreseeable future. There will be 77 million Boomers retiring over the course of the next two decades. Granted, there are 48 million Xers in the workforce, and 80 million Ys who will continue to enter the workforce over the course of the next decade. But that doesn’t mean there will be a job shortage.The problem is, most Xers and Ys aren’t interested in pursuing jobs that require a lot of travel, advanced degrees, or long hours; are redundant or don’t offer new challenges and learning opportunities on a regular basis; or don’t utilize technology. Xers and Ys are also the most entrepreneurial generations, claiming the highest number of start-ups in the United States.Therefore, young talent will continue to be in high demand, which means most of today’s U.S. graduates won’t have to scrape by on minimum wage and they will have their choice of employers.The aging of the Boomers has created a substantial shift in the workforce in more ways than one. Here are a few statistics to shed some light on just how significant these changes will be during the next decade.The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortfall of ten million workers, as 40 percent of the workforce will be eligible to retire.Census data suggest two employees will be leaving for every new hire entering, and new college grads will be an ever-increasing precious commodity.According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the number of entry-level job seekers receiving multiple offers has been on the rise, and the competition is driving salary offers up.

If your company isn’t aggressively pursuing student outreach, it’s probably time to start. We are facing a talent shortage of unprecedented proportions, and introducing students to your place of work will foster positive relationships with them, teach them about your industry, and may provide you with a future workforce.There are a number of ways to forge relationships with students: mentoring programs, internships, job shadowing, career fairs, volunteering to give presentations, and summer employment.Take a lesson from STEP-UP, a summer employment program for diverse, skilled, and motivated youth. STEP-UP is operated by Achieve! Minneapolis in partnership with the City of Minneapolis and is the second largest program of its kind in the nation.STEP-UP recruits, trains and places youth, ages 16–21, in paid summer jobs with local employers. Last summer, 131 employers hired 632 Minneapolis youth.A meaningful summer job inspires youth to pursue their education and career dreams, and it’s an investment in a city’s vitality and future workforce.Check out how two national associations are reaching out to students in an effort to save their industries for a devastating workforce shortage. The National Association of Manufacturers launched the ‘Dream It Do It’ campaign, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants created the ‘Start Here. Go Places.’ initiative.Undoubtedly, there is no better time to start preparing for your company’s future than right now. Are you ready?Today's students are growing up fast. If you wait to reach out to your future workforce, it just might be too late.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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