By: Marcia Burkey, Chief Financial Officer
Millennials, Gen Y, whichever nomenclature you want to label those born between the years 1981 and 1997 —the fact is this age group has recently replaced baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States. An insignificant shift? Not so! With approximately 10,000 baby boomers retiring per day, many sectors face workforces that are aging out, presenting a problematic gap in corporate leadership and numbers in overall employment. This trend presents a challenge in terms of grooming the next class of employees to take on increasing responsibilities and more demanding leadership roles.
The energy and utility industry continues to examine how to provide management continuity after the majority of baby boomers are retired. Those ages 45 to 55+ make up a staggering 48 percent of the utility industry, with ages 35 to 44 making up another almost 25 percent. The Nuclear Energy Institute reports similar statistics, with a downward trend for percentage of employees ages 18 to 27 from 2003 to 2015.
We here at TerraPower see that Gen Y-ers are hardworking, well-educated and determined employees. Coming into the workforce, they are often struggling with student loan debt, yet they are not deterred from taking risks and changing the way we think about the future.
TerraPower’s growth depends on evolving our workplace culture. We believe the Gen Y generation offers critical contributions to those efforts. Growing up during the height of the tech boom, young professionals interact with the world in very different ways than those of us with analog childhoods. Yet, we share the belief that things do not always need to be business as usual. That gives TerraPower an edge so we can accept audacious challenges like reducing poverty and improving quality of life.
The energy sector is one that deals with the need for new technologies and inadequate infrastructure. Because of this, TerraPower embraces the addition of millennials to the company demographic, understanding that they bring fresh perspectives and skill sets that boost our creativity and increase our problem-solving capabilities.
It is true that many Gen Y-ers have different learning and thought processes from generations before them. When, in history, was this not true? TerraPower works hard to create opportunities for these differences to help us come together and learn from each other. A transfer of knowledge, mutual respect and sparring of ideas among professionals of all age ranges will steer us towards advancements and breakthroughs that may not have been possible without collaboration.
The collaboration and sharing of skill sets between different demographics is not merely a goal, it is a necessity. As Henry Ford once said, “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”