Busy Business Women

Portrait of busy woman sitting at the computer table and touching computer mouse on the background of businesspeople

The influx of new businesses to Tucson and record unemployment rates left employers with the unexpected problem of finding qualified employees, according to a report by Inside Tucson Business. With Boomers retiring en masse (Chicago Tribune), the situation is growing more urgent.

This job-to-worker imbalance shows why technical training programs like Pima JTED are invaluable to our communities. JTED trains high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors in a variety of technical skills, from aviation, automotive and construction to AgroSciences and animation. Students also receive CTE credits in conjunction with Pima Community College.

While programs like JTED prepare students for future careers, there are also numerous ways employers can assist in developing the skills of young people.

1. Invest in training

Ideally, workers enter the workforce with all the necessary skills. But as evidenced by the scarcity of qualified candidates, this isn’t the case. Investing in job training means investing in your business’ future by building a more stable labor pool. LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of surveyed employees would stay at a company longer if the company invested in their career development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies with 100-500 employees spent just 12 minutes annually per employee on training. If you’re looking for a first-rate team in the new generation, it pays to help them grow.

2. Seek out qualifications rather than experience

Young people entering the workforce consistently experience a familiar Catch-22. You can’t land a job without experience and you can’t get experience without landing a job. This can intimidate potential applicants or compel managers to hire a candidate who possesses the right skills, but the wrong attitude. To avoid scaring away good employees, consider hiring for soft skills like communication and ambition. Experience and hard skills are important, but employees can also learn those. It’s more difficult to learn passion for the job.

3. Be an understanding employer

Youth culture can be confusing. While you might not understand it, it’s helpful to meet younger employees at their level if you hope to forge long-lasting, respectful relationships. Harvard Business Review cited studies showing that intelligence and technical skills comprise only 25% of an employee’s job success while 75% depends on their ability to “positively adapt to the world.” Help your employees grow by learning their motivations and supporting their adjustment to the working world with empathy rather than reluctance. 

4. Become a mentor

According to an analysis of over 40 studies (SAP SuccessFactors), mentored employees share positive outcomes like higher compensation and more job commitment and satisfaction. To make a difference, consider donating time to engaging with career-focused young people. Working with programs like JTED can provide rewarding experiences by allowing you to impart wisdom and practical advice to the workforce of tomorrow. 

Being young isn’t easy, and the rapid pace of the modern economy makes it even more difficult for young people to gain a foothold. Navigating the working world can be overwhelming and confusing, and every day is a learning experience. Reach out and show young people that you understand by helping them to thrive in the workplace.

Mike Trueba, CCIM is Vice President, Business Banking for Vantage West Credit Union, a $1.9 billion financial institution, which serves a growing Membership of nearly 160,000 via branches across Arizona and online channels. Vantage West offers consumer and business banking services, and is federally insured by NCUA. VantageWest.org