Marine Industry needs the Millennial Workforce

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Millennials, Generation Y, Gen Y, Generation Next, Echo Boomers, Chief Friendship Officers. 24/7’s

Did you hear the news this week? Millennials surpassed Gen Xers (ages 35 to 50 in 2015) as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.

At nearly 54 million-strong today, this Millennial workforce is only on simmer and heating up. By 2025, analysts project a Millennial workforce upwards of 80 million. Don’t fret just yet, Boomers still encompass the ‘Boss’ majority.

“An aging workforce, technological advancements, growth in offshore energy production in the Gulf of Mexico, the expanded Panama Canal, and historical industrial expansion are factors that will compound the workforce shortage even further.” ~ LABI-LCTCS MARITIME WORKFORCE STUDY

This quote embodies the reality of the situation; most maritime employers are experiencing shortages with skilled labor positions across the United States. I’ve heard many discussions on the ‘workforce crisis’ issue, industry panel discussions, conference presentations and conversations at networking events. The prevailing question I hear from Boomer’s,

‘What is wrong with Millennials?

‘What other industry can you make $65k-plus right out of high school?’

Fact is, I’m a Millennial and I don’t take these questions personal. However, I believe the industry is asking the wrong questions and sending the wrong recruiting message. I’m a firm believer that individuals are the emotional result of experiences created and instilled from their environment. Therefore, let’s analyze principles important to each generational workforce.

To Baby Boomers, work is…

  • An exciting adventure
  • A career
  • Work and then, retire

To Gen Xer’s, work is…

  • A difficult challenge
  • A contract
  • Just a job

To Millennials, work is…

  • A means to an end
  • Fulfillment
  • Flexible work arrangements

What they are looking for in a job…

Baby Boomer

  • Ability to “shine”/”be a star”
  • Make a contribution
  • Company represents a good cause
  • Fit in w/ company vision/mission
  • Team approach
  • Need clear and concise job expectations, and will get it done
  • Like to achieve work through teams.

Gen X

  • Dynamic young leaders
  • Cutting edge systems/tech
  • Forward thinking company
  • Flexibility in scheduling
  • Input evaluated on merit, not age/seniority
  • If you can’t see the reason for the task, they will question it.
  • If you can’t keep them engaged then they will seek it in another position.


  • Want to be challenged-Don’t want a boring job
  • Expect to work with positive people and company that can fulfill their dreams
  • Strong, ethical leaders/mentors
  • Treated w/ respect in spite of age
  • Social network
  • They expect to learn new knowledge and skills (they see repeating tasks as a poor use of their energy and time and an example of not being taken seriously)
  • Friendly environments (Respond poorly to inflexible hierarchical organizations.)
  • Respond best to more networked, less hierarchical organizations.
  • Flexible schedules
  • Want to be evaluated on output not input- on the work product itself
  • They expect to be paid well
  • They want to make a difference

Boomers are workaholics, they invented the 50-hr workweek and strongly believe visibility is key. Gen Xer’s focus on a clear balance between work and family because their Boomer parent’s were workaholics. Gen Xer’s ‘get paid to get the job done’ as they’re more project oriented. Millennials not only balance with work and life, but balance with work, life and community involvement and self development.

Let’s be honest, the Marine Industry is slow to adapt new technology. However, technology is integral to Millennials and this workforce is focused on being global and networked. These individuals are effective workers but gone at 5pm because work is viewed as something to fill the time between the weekends. Alternatively, many skilled labor positions within the Maritime Industry require long-hours or inflexible time-away. These industry requirements don’t align well with a workforce that seeks flex time, job sharing and sabbaticals.

The maritime employment situation reminds me of the cliché, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

For additional generational workforce information, click here

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word and share with colleagues.

How is your organization adjusting roles to attract prospective employees? What type of social mediums is your organization utilizing to connect with Millennials? Share your thoughts.

Chris Stuckey — Grew up along the banks of the Ohio River in Indiana. At 18 yo, moved to New Orleans to study Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering at the University of New Orleans and worked as a NAME in the Marine Industry. Today, Stuckey is the CEO and Founder of His mission is to help network Marine Industry professionals and streamline communication efficiency for businesses excited about the future success of the Shipbuilding Industry.


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Maritant connects vendor equipment data in one location with engineers, shipyards & vessel operators, increasing team productivity and closing sales faster.

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