Counselor Commentary: Let Youth Be Served

Unemployment Rate For Ages 19-31 Needs To Drop

Dave VagnoniIt’s a number that economists cringe at, but business owners should find opportunity in – 15%. That’s the unemployment rate for Americans between the ages of 19 and 31. This is an awful figure, one that needs to start dropping – and fast – in order for the economy to fully recover. So what can be done? Well, for starters, hiring managers need to quit judging ability based only on a resume and begin searching for high-ceiling potential.

Members of Generation Y are inexperienced according to traditional measures, but savvy in terms of ideas and technology. Every industry – including the ad specialty market – can benefit from a fresh perspective every once in a while. Simply recycling salespeople that have worked at five other industry companies is hardly a formula for shaking things up. Suppliers, distributors and decorators should all be actively recruiting out-of-industry Millennials, especially with so much talent available.

Now, it’s true that few young people understand how the ad specialty industry works – which is why effective promotion and education are so important. This week, ASI visited The College of New Jersey to teach business and marketing students about the value of promotional products. The hour-long presentation featured ASI’s latest Ad Specialties Impressions Study, which shows that promo products provide better ROI than many other forms of advertising.

“Today I learned that people keep a large quantity of the promotional products that they get, and the return on investment is better in comparison to TV advertising,” said Anthony Paun, a finance major at the school, after the session. Another student, who wants to launch an apparel company, asked how he could use promotional products to market his fledgling brand. Many other students showed interest in industry internships, suddenly realizing a career in promo products now sounds a lot more enticing than working at that insurance company that sent someone to present a session the week before.

This kind of collegiate outreach is a good first step, but ultimately more industry firms need to think and hire differently. Sure, it’s a risk to bring in a young rep who has no clue what EQP means. But the view from here is it’s even riskier to stay the course. Remember, there’s a lot of talent in that 15%. It’s time to take advantage of it.