ORLANDO, Fla.— Millennials. Generation Y. Echo boomers.

No matter what you call them, they’re the generation many in the HVAC industry are hoping will fill the job vacancies left when waves of older workers retire in coming years.

Industry publications write about them, business owners fret about attracting them. Who better to dissect what they want than one of their own?

That was the idea behind the MCAA booking Jason Dorsey of the Center for Generational Kinetics for its March 18-22 annual convention at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. The Mechanical Contractors Association of America has long been bringing in experts on attracting younger workers, but many of them were more than twice the age of the workers they were talking about.

But not Dorsey, an entrepreneur and author from Austin, Texas, who bills himself as the “Gen Y Guy.” In his mid-30s, he is on the older side of the millennial generation, but his insights have been featured on television and the New York Times.

Before he began his March 22 presentation, “Y-Size Your Business,” he acknowledged that some in the audience may be sick of hearing about millennials.
He said the HVAC construction industry is one of the best careers a young person could have — but many aren’t very interested in it.

“This industry has a recruiting problem with millennials,” he said, adding that people in their 20s and early 30s don’t find it a “sexy” field.

X or Y?

Although definitions vary among demographers, millennials or Gen Y people are generally considered those born in in early 1980s up to 2000 or so. The youngest will so graduate from high school, while the oldest millennials are well into their careers and many have families. There are more than 80 million of them in the U.S.
Unlike baby boomers or even Generation X, which preceded Gen Y, millennials are remarkably similar, Dorsey said.

Millennials “are the most consistent generation in the world,” he said. “The No. 1 trend that shapes this generation… and (will) transform this industry — parenting.”
Gen Y’s baby boomer parents are more hands-on that previous generations, a trend that may contribute to the fact many members of gen Y “feel entitled,” he said.
Dorsey pointed out that many of the members of Gen Y who are out of college graduated with a lot of debt.

“Everyone thinks we’re broke,” he said.

In part due to these high debt levels, the age at which typically “adult” milestones such as driving, graduating from college, marriage or first child occur has been steadily rising.

“Today’s 28-year-old may be two to three years behind where other generations were at the same time,” he said.

Technology is another hallmark of millennials. Many don’t remember a time when the Internet wasn’t around or phones that were only on a wall or desk.

“Technology is only new if you remember it the way it was before,” he said.

Millennials are far more accepting of diversity than previous generations, Dorsey said.

“We’re so diverse, we do not see diversity until it’s absent,” he said, adding that the lack of multicultural workers in the HVAC industry may be hampering recruitment efforts.

“This industry has challenges with diversity,” he said.