A Baby Boomer and Millennial Inspire Counselors By Highlighting the Value of Industrial Careers

By Jason Dodier and Peter G. Martin

Few recent high school graduates appear to be focused on pursuing careers in the industrial sector. Perhaps the traditional dirty and rusty images associated with such careers, in contrast to the perceived glamour of other professions, have caused millennials to look for satisfying careers outside of industry. In this article, the authors - a millennial (Jason) and boomer (Peter) - make a case for pursuing industrial careers and encourage school counselors to consider afresh the value of industrial careers by discussing the unique characteristics of the two different generations. Examining how characteristics of Millennials such as altruism, efficiency and proficiency uniquely qualify them to take up careers in the industrial sector, the author's anticipate that the arguments presented will inspire career counselors to re-consider promoting industrial careers.

Understanding the Unique Characteristics of Each Generation
Baby Boomers complain about the superficiality and work ethic of Millennials, while Millennials complain about the rigidness and lack of acceptance of Baby Boomers. There is some truth in both perspectives, yet the same attributes that cause consternation may be the basis for why Millennials may be perfectly suited to pick up the industrial mantle from boomers - to drive industrial operations to new levels of performance.
AltruismMillennials appears are more altruistic in choice of profession than the Baby Boomers were. Baby Boomers were born after the war and recession years. Their parents tended to push them toward high-earning careers. Millennials come out of years of prosperity, which has ultimately contributed to a more benevolent perspective and desire to examine other cultures first hand, often spending a portion of their twenties studying or working overseas. These are ideal attributes for selecting a career in industry since the end-in-mind of improving industry is a much better world for humanity. Our world needs Millennials to step forward and solve some of the greatest challenges humanity faces by driving industry forward.

Over the past 50 years, Baby Boomers working in the industrial sectors have built technological solutions that have significantly improved industrial operations’ performance. Boomers coming into industrial careers were taught to completely understand all aspects operation of the machinery and process equipment, the production processes, the chemistry, physics, biology and mechanics required to make industry work efficiently and safely. When it came to computer-based technology, the boomers’ approach was similar. They tended to learn how a computer worked right down to the logic circuits and machine programming language. This approach and these skills were ideal for the development of computer-based technological solutions from inception to make industrial operations work effectively. On the other hand, Baby Boomers have never been very comfortable using the high-technology inventions they developed. It is the proficiency of Millennials that complements this approach.


Modern Industrial Control SystemModern Industrial Control System (photo credit: Schneider Electric)

On the other hand, Millennials grew up with this technology. They are infinitely more comfortable using computer-based devices than any previous generation. Millennials may not need to understand these devices right down to the base components, as Baby Boomers did, but they can really make them work. A fun experiment along these lines is to provide a Millennial and a Baby Boomer a new video game and ask them to become proficient playing the game. By the time the boomer has finished the tutorial, the Millennial may be on Level 3. Millennials tend to learn technology by using it and get better with further usage. This is an ideal attribute for today’s industrial worker who has to be proficient at making work the technology the Baby Boomers developed, to optimize industrial operations. Millennials will also be responsible and ready to help advance the high impact applications of the future such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, 3D printing, and other biometric technologies which will propel existing industrial organizations.

Characteristics Translate into Unique Qualification
Focusing on technologies of the future, the image of industrial jobs as “dirty and rusty” is typically way off base – a 20th century view. Some of the highest levels of technology today are implemented in industrial sectors, for example, autonomous, self-operating automobiles. Technology in industry has been advancing to produce autonomous and optimally operating industrial assets, with the industrial assets performing work that is beneficial to mankind. As technology advances with the guidance of the Millennial generation, new levels of industrial production will be able to be attained safely and with positive environmental impact. In fact, there is an oil and petrochemical complex in India that produces a positive environmental impact by utilizing certain plants throughout the operations that convert and breakdown carbon emissions. There are also technologies that act as carbon dioxide vacuum cleaners when attached to carbon emitting electric power plants, ultimately creating carbon negative factories. These types of solutions have just begun to positively impact our global environment. The mindset and positive attributes the Millennial generation can bring to industry is bound to advance such solutions to a much greater extent.

Invitation to Counselors
Career Counselors can use the information presented herein with young Millennials by:

  • Discussing the positive impact a career in industry can have on humanity.
  • Explaining that industrial operations are truly leading edge when it comes to the use of the highest-technology.
  • Pointing out that the negative image associated with industrial jobs is not what they will find. In fact, industrial offices are typically clean, comfortable and very well appointed.
  • Explaining that industrial careers typically are well-paid with good benefits and a high level of job security.
  • Coordinating field trips for their students to recognized industries in their community.

Steering a young talented student toward exploring a career in industry may lead to the most gratifying experience a counselor would ever have.

Opportunities for Students
Counselors, teachers, and students seem to have been exploring careers outside of the industrial sector for the last few decades. Industrial workers are now retiring at increasing rates, creating a significant industrial worker shortage. These positions use the highest technology and solving some of humanities biggest challenges. These are good, productive and valuable professions well suited for the Millennials based on their unique characteristics. As both a Millennial and a Baby Boomer, we suggest that counselors take a closer look at industrial careers and the Millennial generation to see how the emerging talent matches the challenges. Industrial careers can be very rewarding in many ways and will be extremely valuable to our world.

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Peter MartinPeter G. Martin, Ph.D., Vice President Innovation and Marketing, Schneider Electric. Dr. Martin has over 37 years in industrial control and automation, and holds multiple patents. He has authored numerous articles, technical papers, and books, including “Building the Next Generation of Automation Professionals: Perspectives from One Long-Time Professional” published in Career Convergence. Fortune named Dr. Martin a Hero of U.S. Manufacturing. He was also named as one of the 50 Most Influential Innovators of All Time by Intech, and received the Life Achievement Award by the International Society of Automation (ISA). In 2013 Dr. Martin was elected to the Process Automation Hall of Fame, and was selected as a Fellow of the International Society of Automation. He holds BA and MS degrees in Mathematics and an MA degree in Administration and Management, a Master of Biblical Studies degree, a PhD in Industrial Engineering, and a PhD in Biblical Studies. He can be reached at peter.g.martin@schneider-electric.com

Jason DodierJason Dodier is responsible for the Federal Civilian business within Schneider Electric .He has worked in a variety of leadership functions globally and has been established as a bedrock of Millennial leadership within the international IT and manufacturing communities. Jason has worked in several global positions based in North America, Middle East and Europe while remaining an active member of the French American Chamber of Commerce. Jason is currently based in Washington DC and continues to remain active in his home state of Rhode Island as a member of the strengthening Rhode Island advisory committee. In 2009 Jason was the proud recipient of a business degree from Bryant University in Smithfield, RI and subsequent six sigma black belt from Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA.






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