Four Ways to Hire Younger Talent into Trade Work

You’re not imagining things: the workforce is getting younger. 

In fact, the new wave of workers might surprise you — high school graduates are choosing to forgo higher education in pursuit of careers. AP News reported that the current college enrollment rate has decreased 6% since 2019, effectively undoing all of the work made over the past couple of decades to increase attendance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44.1% of people aged 16 – 24 weren’t enrolled in school. While this is less than half of that population, this still amounts to 16.8 million potential workers out there! Even more impressive is that the labor force participation rate for this population is 80%, which is considerably higher than the national average for the total workforce.

Simply put: there are younger people on the hunt for a job — and they want to work! The only catch is that they may not be looking at trade type work specifically. To garner your fair share of these potential employees, you need to create roles that they actually want, which is much easier said than done. To give you a leg up, we’ve come up with four ways you can attract younger workers.

Four ways you can attract younger workers

Younger workers, obviously, have different motivations when it comes to searching for and accepting a job. With the following strategies, you should be able to add younger talent to your team in no time!


First and foremost, if your industry allows you to offer apprenticeships where workers can learn the skills they need on the job, you need to implement these mentorship opportunities. Apprenticeships are perfect gateway roles for the high school graduate, because they provide a clear career path for workers to follow — plus, they can decide if this career is right for them long term.

This new wave of workers doesn’t want to waste time racking up debt and going to classes for a degree that may or may not be useful in the future when they could be entering the workforce and making good money. The key to advertising (and thinking about) these apprenticeships is in terms of cost-savings — the employee saves money on education while you save money that would otherwise be spent on an employee with more experience. It’s a win-win for both parties!

Offer sign-on bonuses

As we keep mentioning, money is this worker’s  motivation. They want to avoid going into debt for education at all costs, especially when the economic future seems so uncertain. The biggest driver for veering high school graduates away from high school education is partly due to how overwhelming student loans can be. 

To attract young people to your open roles, you need to show them the money — and the easiest way to do this is with a sign-on bonus. Sign-on bonuses could be the extra push candidates need to accept one offer over the other. In this hiring market, you still need to be competitive in your recruiting and hiring methods despite the employer gaining more power.

Make your applications simple

Along with staggering student loan debt, another deterrent that is keeping graduates from enrolling in college is that the applications for universities, scholarships, and even financial aid are too difficult to navigate. But what does this have to do with you? Simple — you require an application too!

You need to make applying to your job easier if you want to increase applicant volume. Your job application needs to be as easy to apply to as ordering food or making your latest impulse buy. In our 2023 State of Hiring Report, we found that nearly three in four (73%) respondents have given up on an application because it took too long to complete. A quick fix to this is by using an applicant tracking system that does not require applicants to create a profile in order to submit an application. Other than that, keep it simple: only require name, email, and phone number — everything else can be collected in the interview process!

Manage your employment branding

Your reputation means everything to applicants — and it should to you too! Industries that are still struggling to hire, like retail automotive and hospitality, need to take a good look in the mirror to see what they can do to appear more attractive to these young people. In the old days, kids would dream about being a mechanic or an electrician or even a handyman, but that simply doesn’t happen these days.

Instead, you need to look at ways that you can control the narrative of your organization. You can start by creating a customized career site where you can highlight your company culture, any charities you support, and employees who have risen through the ranks. This is a great way for younger applicants to get a feel for what it would be like to work with you, rather than any preconceived notions they may have.

Are you ready to start hiring younger workers?

The workforce isn’t getting any older — do you have the tools in place to attract and retain the latest wave of talent? With these strategies, you will be well on your way to making the hires you need while providing a future for a greenhorn high school graduate.

To learn more about the modern worker, download Hireology’s 2023 State of Hiring Report today to learn more about the six defining characteristics of today’s workers.



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