Attracting the Next Generation to the Green Industry

A look at how landscape companies can recruit and retain younger generations of workers.

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Hiring remains one of the most pressing challenges for home service companies, but it’s hard to find an industry where this scenario is more relevant than the green industry. It remains one of the top concerns for landscapers, with a majority being kept up at night because they’re unable to attract enough applicants to fill open positions.

The need to attract young talent to the green industry has never been more critical to ensure businesses can keep up with growing demand. This starts by encouraging the next generation to embrace the opportunity that exists within the industry and getting parents on board, a key influencer group for career decision-making and one that often steers children toward white collar jobs.

According to research conducted by Jobber, 80 percent of Gen Z say their parents are pushing them to pursue a college education after high school, creating pressure for Gen Z to pursue a traditional white collar career path while incurring large amounts of debt. However, what high school graduates want from their career isn’t necessarily what their parents want for their children. According to the same research, 75 percent of recent high school graduates are actually interested in exploring vocational schools that offer paid, on-the-job training, demonstrating that there is real interest in the trades.

To get parents and emerging professionals to see the benefits of pursuing a career in the green industry, more needs to be done to highlight some of the benefits of pursuing this type of career path, such as industry job security, entrepreneurial opportunities and high earning potential.

Highlighting job security in trades

As artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the center stage over the past year, one common question has emerged: How likely is this rapidly evolving technology to take certain jobs? While this concern has remained top of mind for many, the green industry has largely remained an exception. It’s true that the technology might help to optimize some areas of the business, but let’s face it, AI isn’t going to landscape a property.

Industries like tree care and landscaping are not very susceptible to the digital disruptions that threaten to impact jobs, and we need to make sure Gen Z knows this, too. In fact, the research showed that job security was the second most important factor recent high school graduates consider when selecting a career path. And, we need to make sure that parental pressure isn’t causing them to abandon their hopes for job security due to stigma—especially since more than half of recent high school graduates (56 percent) believe that blue collar jobs have more job security than white collar desk jobs.

Showcasing entrepreneurial opportunities and earning potential

One of the most powerful ways to inspire those who are considering career paths—and who have an interest in vocational training and the trades—is simply to show the success of those that have come before them. We know that Gen Z is a generation of entrepreneurs, with more than two-thirds wanting to start a business at some point in their lives.

Unfortunately, they’re often unaware that the green industry checks many of the boxes they’re chasing. For instance, Gen Z is most interested in starting a business that either doesn’t require formal training or has low upfront costs (41 percent). This is especially true among women, with nearly half (45 percent) being more likely to pursue a business that requires no formal training and/or little upfront costs compared to men (36 percent).

Additionally, Gen Z is unaware of the earning potential of certain trade and home service work, including the green industry. Many green industry businesses that fit Gen Z’s preferences are perceived to generate less revenue annually than they actually do. The majority of recent high school graduates don’t believe that tree maintenance and landscaping businesses can earn more than $1 million in revenue each year, although two-thirds actually do.

The green industry provides rich opportunities for entrepreneurship that allows individuals to start their own businesses with low startup costs and overhead and little to no formal education.

Spreading the word

While this problem won’t be solved overnight, there are several immediate steps we’ve seen work well for other businesses that industry leaders can take to attract a new generation of talent into their field:

  • Get on social media: Don’t be afraid to show the great work your company and your employees are doing on social media. Doing so won’t just grab the attention of a younger audience, but also catch the eye of potential leads—a win-win.
  • Go to networking events and job fairs: There’s no shortage of high school and colleges willing to connect you with their students. Take advantage of these opportunities to meet with potential employees to share more about the great work you’re doing and what’s possible for them.
  • Become a mentor: Whether it’s someone just starting to explore the green industry or a new business owner, no one wants to figure things out on their own. Share your knowledge about what it takes to run a successful landscape or lawn care business, and how employees can level up.
  • Incentivize referrals: Existing employees are often one of the best ways to advertise job openings. Consider starting an employee referral program that rewards your employees for recommending candidates, and encourage your team to make introductions even if there isn’t a position immediately available.

 By taking these steps to get in front of younger generations while they’re considering career paths and understanding how stigma is applied at an institutional and parental level, we can better demonstrate just how valid and valuable the trades can be for the earning potential and entrepreneurial opportunities that many Gen Zers are seeking.



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