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Opinion: Tahoe’s job market sees shift

Jenna Palacio
Tribune Guest Column

If you think the 2016 election cycle will bring some surprising transitions, buckle up. Lake Tahoe’s business community is changing, too.

The local economy is stumbling out of the Great Recession, our workforce’s demographics are changing, and our job market will shift as members of the Baby Boomer generation (those born 1946-964) reach or surpass retirement age.

There is a wealth of experience that needs to be tapped as we move into the future, just as there’s a wealth of young talent hungry to deliver new business practices to our region while growing their careers. Thus, our community faces a unique challenge in the workforce: Creating a healthy environment that supports retiring Baby Boomers, while making way for new leadership to take the reins. As we are all agents of change in this situation, I challenge you to assess where you are in this equation; at work, on a board you sit on, or in an organization you volunteer for now.

Even if you don’t think change is in the foreseeable future (it definitely is), it’s a best practice to keep an eye out for your replacement and offer them developmental support now for a smooth transition later. Harvard Business Journal advocates the first step to creating a succession plan is to stop calling it a “plan” and to focus on processes that enable “succession development.”

What important plans or projects of yours need to be carried out in the future? What experiences would the person inheriting your position need to succeed? Is there an opportunity for mentoring a team member or giving them a certain project to help them step up? Has your industry evolved and it’s time to update operations? Does your company use outdated recruitment tools to attract talent? (Author’s note: If your organization uses Craigslist for anything other than getting rid of old office furniture, I’m looking at you.) It’s time to adapt to the new normal of recruitment, retention and collaboration.

Now, I write this with a deep respect to our workforce veterans — the pioneers, the tribal elders of our community who’ve been working at their job or in their industry for decades. I encourage everyone to avoid the US vs. THEM mentality, which is the dichotomy Lake Tahoe’s limited job market can create. Before you jump to the conclusion that “millennials act entitled to promotions without putting in the time,” just remember how severely the game has changed in acquiring the level of education and career advancement opportunities that have been afforded to people thirty years their senior, without being crushed by debt. And those of you in the 25-45 demographic who don’t understand “why won’t that old-school person just retire already,” keep in mind Baby Boomers are transitioning in a time where their pensions might have disappeared, medical coverage issues have dramatically spiked, or maybe there’s an issue with their company culture that resists change or opportunities for progression.

Now is the time to embrace the challenges of the local marketplace and seek a common ground: A community that retains young talent and also ensures its infrastructure supports the businesses and people that are looking forward, and not back.

Jenna Palacio is a member of Tahoe Regional Young Professionals.


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