Young vs. Old

Young vs. Old
Younger technicians are used to working with the latest technology. (Photo: Huw Evans)

I usually write about an issue I feel needs to be discussed or a problem I see in the industry.

Then I offer my opinion or suggestions to solve the issue. This article is about the “younger” minds (namely the millennial generation) and “older” minds (those that came before) in our industry and the struggles we have understanding the habits and behaviours of each group.

This article is not intended to put down or criticize the younger minds in our industry. The majority of the workforce is now populated with the younger minds, mostly as technicians. The majority of owners and managers in our business are still from the older mind sector of the workforce.

Respecting a young mind

I respect the younger minds in our industry and know that the way they act and think is a direct result of the world they grew up in. Most schools introduced computers, tablets and calculators in the classroom over the last few decades. Millennials grew up in a world where information came to them in seconds. Their minds developed in this world where they didn’t have to look up phone numbers in a book or manually calculate 247 divided by 17—their Smartphone gave them their answers!

As one of the older minds in our industry, I often tell stories to the younger minds about how we had to write work orders by hand, look up parts in a parts’ catalogue, and then go to a printed price list to look up parts’ prices. After all that, we wrote the information on an estimate sheet, used an adding machine to get the total of all operations, and then telephoned the client. If the client approved the estimate sheet, then we had to make phone calls to suppliers to order all the parts. The whole operation of making an estimate start to finish could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Thanks to computerization, e-mail, and other technology, this procedure can be done in two minutes or less and with much less mental energy!

The young minds of our industry are very skilled at using new technologies, and some of us older minds benefit from this every day. If my desk computer has a problem or my cell phone starts acting up, I always enjoy having a 20-something-year-old young mind in the team to run to for help.

Not alike

The problem is this: older minds and younger minds in our industry don’t think alike. This isn’t going to change, so we must stop trying to change this and find a way to work through the problem. New systems and procedures, new shop equipment, new computerized diagnostic tools—these are all going to be needed to enable us to be successful in the future.

Taking a look at our shop, the newest scan tool we have reads all codes and connects directly to the software that shows the technician common fixes for those codes. If the technician looks at live data, then the computer system highlights just the data that’s pertinent to that issue. Having this scan tool helps today’s technicians solve problems faster because not only do they have the right equipment, they also have great skills in using it effectively.

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