When it comes to manufacturing these days, the spotlight is often on those preparing to graduate from high school. How can we attract young people to manufacturing? How can we ensure youth know all their post-high school opportunities and that those opportunities are presented in an unbiased way? But what about the Millennials, those born from 1981 to 1996 (ages 24 to 39 in 2020)? How are millennials connected to the manufacturing conversation?

How is age related to unhappiness in the workforce?

According to Talent Intelligence, a global company that connects employers with qualified employees, “employees start disliking their job at age 35.” Why is the age of 35 a time of unrest in the career field, you ask? Market Watch.com recently released an article entitled More American women are having babies in their 30s than their 20s, which suggests the thirties are a time when the work-life balance is the most challenged. Even for those who expand their families before they hit their thirties, they likely still fall in the millennial age group.

Inc.com released an article on work-life balance that said, “If you’re 30 years old and feel less happy than you did when you were 20, science says you’re not alone.” This article spotlighted the research of a Dartmouth professor, David Blanchflower, whose research included hundreds of thousands of people in 132 countries. In a nutshell, Blanchflower discovered that “people around the world experience an inverted, U-shaped happiness curve.” As the article says when explaining Blanchflower’s research results, “Starting at age 18, your happiness level begins to decrease, reaching peak unhappiness at 47.2 in developed countries and 48.2 in developing countries.”

What could explain the above research findings? Blanchflower has two theories:

  1. EXPECTATIONS- From the early twenties down, most believe the world is full of possibilities and that dreams are within everyone’s grasp. But as years pass and certain dreams are unrealized, it takes many people years to find peace with what one expected of the world and their future and the journey their life actually took. As Blanchflower says, it takes time (i.e. wisdom, maturity, perspective) to “quell their infeasible aspirations.”
  2. COMPARISONS- People in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s “are more likely to compare themselves to others– and find themselves wanting.”

How does manufacturing play a role in the conversation?

If research shows the work-life balance struggle tends to happen closer to the thirties and research also reveals coming to terms with one’s own expectations of life and the unhealthy comparisons one makes to other people’s lives is a direct hit to one’s happiness from the mid-20s to late-40s, career opportunities should be presented just as often and readily to the non-teens of the world as they are to teens.

One of the amazing things about manufacturing is that it is an equal opportunity employer. Instead of age playing a significant role in one’s likelihood to do well in the manufacturing arena, it’s someone’s ability to be dependable and someone’s ability to demonstrate a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn, and pride in one’s work. Instead of millennials accepting unhappiness as a part of their life that is unchanging, they need to know they have options, specifically in the workforce, and that manufacturing and the skilled trades are a part of those options.

If you’re unhappy, make a change. It’s that simple. And while you’re contemplating what change is best for your life and what change is likely to move your happiness gauge in a positive direction, consider the many incredible manufacturing opportunities in your area and around the country because one thing is clear: millennials and manufacturing are a relationship that makes sense.

Author: Evelyn Lindell