Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nadira Hira speaks about Gen Y challenges in the Owensboro region

This week the Green River Workforce Investment Board (WIB) hosted a luncheon, co-sponsored by GO-EDC, featuring Nadira Hira speaking on the Generation Y workforce. Hira is an award-winning journalist and general assignment writer at Fortune Magazine, where she has focused increasingly on stories for and about Generation Y, the fastest growing segment of the American workforce.

Generation Y refers to individuals born between 1978 and 1994. In the next several years, they are expected to outnumber all other segments of the workforce. The retirement of the boomer generation, which officially began this year, will trigger a worker shortage that Generation X, which comes behind the Boomers, will be unable to fill. Businesses are realizing that they may have no choice but to accommodate the unique and curious aspects of the Gen Y creatures.

Hira spoke to the audience about many of the challenges that businesses face in recruiting, retaining, and supervising this important demographic group. Her blog at is full of the same points. Members of Gen Y are looking for meaningful work; they are particularly influenced by technology which often makes them more productive than their predecessors despite the fact that they spend less time working in a traditional office setting.

It struck me, as I looked around the room how evident the need to reach out as a region to this group-- the community in general is not connecting with Gen Y.

Greater Owensboro has an opportunity to correct this with a couple of key steps. The first step is to conduct a real evaluation of the strengths and values of the community relative to the Gen Y group. The current branding campaign is an opportunity for the region to appeal to the Gen Y audience as an authentic community providing meaningful work and meaningful play.

Secondly, the region should have a plan to become a destination for Generation Y. This is where the overall strategy to attract people with attractive places, known as place making, come in to play (click here for more information). Lastly, the community must figure out how to engage this younger generation as community leaders. Not only will Gen Y fill a majority of the jobs in the workforce, they will be assuming leadership roles in corporations and communities much sooner than their predecessors.
The last step is a missing link. The Chamber Young Professionals is an active group of Generation Y members which could play a key role in shaping this for future of their generation and the vitality of the region. Are we ready to pass the torch?

Please visit the following links to read more about Nadira Hira:

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