This month we are launching our 30 Under 30 salute to those in lighting who are younger than 30 years old. For those of us who have been in the industry for 25, 30, or 40+ years, there has been concern over the past 10 years or so that what has made the lighting industry so enjoyable has been changing. Many family-run manufacturers have been sold to public companies or private equity firms and, similarly, there are family-owned lighting showrooms that have reached the end of the line (generationally speaking) for one reason or another.
With a decrease in those legacy hires, there have been casual discussions at the various markets and conferences on how to interest young people in the lighting business. The American Lighting Association (ALA) and Lighting One recently established groups for this demographic, but if someone isn’t already in one of these organizations, they wouldn’t know about their existence outside of the industry.
One of our 30 Under 30 members profiled in this issue, Cole Semanko, brings up the challenge of increasing awareness of what truly is a great vocation filled with life-long friends. A career in the lighting industry isn’t something that one learns about in the usual way that potential careers are discovered. While Ferguson Enterprises (which is a plumbing distributor at its core) has an admirable outreach at college job fairs, there aren’t any lighting distributors or manufacturers that I’m aware of who do something similar — and if you know of one, please let me know!
Most lighting professionals enter the field because they know of someone who is already employed in the industry who has heard of an opportunity. Let’s not keep this wonderful industry a secret any longer! We can’t bemoan the lack of young people coming into our industry if we aren’t doing anything proactively to entice them to join us. Let’s exchange ideas on how we can get the word out and work together to tweak those current demographics a bit so that each generation can learn from each other. If you are a lighting showroom or manufacturer with a successful career recruitment program, please write in and share your experience with us so we can spread the news and help others engage the upcoming generation to view lighting as a purposeful career choice. Thank you!
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Awareness – Everyone’s Responsibility
After well over 40 years in our lighting industry I have been a fierce proponent of young talent recruitment. I personally have inspired younger people to join us and also have instituted internship programs when I was associated with a manufacturer. In my Pillar of the Industry speech in 2014, I challenged everyone to bring younger people into the lighting family for their own benefit and for the benefit of the industry.
Consider this: manufacturers, showrooms and agencies should develop and promote internship programs attracting young talent to join them. The comprehensive program I developed produced dedicated lighting representatives who are still involved in our industry today and doing extremely well! They’re lifers!
It behooves everyone who is reading this (and those who will be!) to raise awareness of our industry and all that it offers. The ever changing technologies, the opportunities for growth, the educational stimulation, the social and environmental challenges and benefits…..these are all attractions to be promoted to potential lighting geeks! Talk about us……tell the benefits……tell your stories…….talk about opportunities…….the more you talk lighting and the opportunities within you’ll raise awareness and spark the interest of a younger and potential member of the lighting world.