Which industries are attracting and repelling millennials?

Millennials ain’t your average generation. Those born between 1980 and 1996 (although the exact age group ranges depending on who you ask) have been called everything from lazy to narcissistic to serial job-hoppers, and accused of killing industries like bar soap, napkins, golf, diamonds, and even department stores.

When it comes to the workforce, millennials also stand out as much more mobile than their older counterparts. In the US, new LinkedIn data reveals that millennials are 50 per cent more likely to relocate and 16 per cent more likely to switch industries for a new job than other generations.

And while many companies are still mystified as to what attracts and retains a millennial worker, there are clear trends that show what industries and sectors this age group is gravitating towards and avoiding.

The top growing industries for millennials switching jobs in the last year include technology/software; healthcare and pharmaceutical; financial services and insurance; aero/auto and transport; and architecture and engineering. This growth is contributed to the fact that millennials are much more likely to have strong IT, software, and programming skills than other generations and the desire to use them at work.

While the growing number of millennials joining more traditional industries such as healthcare and finance may seem to counter this point, both these sectors have made efforts to rebrand themselves with innovative tech updates and modernization to attract millennials over the last few years.

Taking the top spots for industries in decline with millennial workers are retail and consumer products; government, education, and non-profit; media and entertainment; oil and energy; and telecommunications.

Lower employment of millennials in retail is not hard to imagine, with the industry largely consisting of entry-level positions that post-educated millennials are overqualified for, but the LinkedIn data says governments are losing out on millennials because of shutdowns, furloughs, pay freezes, and frustratingly long hiring processes. Another factor can be traced back to the government and education sector’s typically lower wages but more generous benefits – many young people have student loans and aren’t as concerned about health insurance and retirement as they are about paying off those debts.

When it comes to industries where millennials are in high demand, the auto/aero and engineering workforces top the list.

“If you’re recruiting within one of these industries, now may be the best time to double down on your branding and outreach efforts,” says LinkedIn’s report. “Competition for millennial candidates in these industries has gotten a lot fiercer, and may continue to become more difficult as time goes on.”

So what do millennials want?

LinkedIn highlights the fact that millennials do indeed value different things in a career opportunity than non-millennials. Millennials are “significantly more likely to cite a strong career path and strong employee development opportunities” as qualities they seek in a job, lending itself to the most frequently cited reason by millennials for leaving a job: a lack of opportunities for career advancement. Since tech is generally seen as a growing, supportive industry, “it makes sense that many millennials are attracted to the career prospects it seems to promise.”

LinkedIn points out that while millennials prefer unconventional features like flexible workspaces and hours, they do share a desire with non-millennial generations for steady jobs with regular benefits and paychecks.

The author (who was born well after 1980) would also like to note that if you happen to have millennials working at your office, you can always try asking them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacshttp://www.itwc.ca
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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