The Auto Industry Needs a Fresh Look to Appeal to Fresh Faces

Younger generations are defined by individuals who are highly technical, team oriented, and focused on their personal development. They are taught to participate in community service, to support ‘green’ living, and to pursue college degrees.  How does this translate into the auto industry?  Many of the automotive manufacturers today are doing their part to focus on community efforts and recycling but may be coming up short on career development opportunities for younger generations.

Years ago, a job in the automotive industry was something many young adults strived towards.  Working for the ‘Big Three’ was something many bragged about.  Whether that meant working the line, engineering a new vehicle, or communicating with board executives, college students (and non-college students) found working in the auto industry as a highlight in their career.

Recently, I looked to my own college students to gain a ‘fresh’ perspective on what current younger generations considered “highlights” in their careers.  And as questions were placed with answers, I began to find myself taken back by the responses to the following question:

“What are the top companies you want to work for”?

Unlike younger generations of the past, only two students out of nearly sixty mentioned the auto companies.  Instead, Google came out on top. This startling change between generations forced me to consider facts I had never before considered.  In doing so, I began to wonder how auto companies can ensure that future generations will maintain the highest quality of talent?

There are some automotive companies that have begun to look ahead.  These automotive companies have come to the realization that they have to do things differently than in the past.  Engaging interns, co-ops, and new hires early in their careers with work that is meaningful, can lead to change and further professional development.  High quality team projects are more likely to spark conversation, thus carrying through to college campuses.

The best way for any company to understand and engage these young people is to use resources already available.  Turning to your current talent pool of young employees to answer questions,helping to plan recruitment programs, and getting feedback on where they see change should be made are the first adjustments that can, and SHOULD, be made.  This will help bring a louder voice to the needs of the next generation, give current young employees a sense of belonging and attention, and challenge them to consider what they want out of their career.  This will also make your Gen Y employees accessible to recruits that want to be able to talk peer-to-peer about how your company is meeting their needs.

For those working in automotive, what else are you doing to attract and retain the future leaders of this industry?

Written by:

Candice Reyes, Executive Coach and Consultant

Automotive Sector Lead


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