A recently released study from the National Academies of Science (Cullen et al. 2013) warned that we are facing the Great Crew Change in most, if not all, of our skilled labor industries. Mining, oil and gas extraction, construction, and others are all facing a dramatic change in make-up of the workforce as the aging Traditionals and the huge Baby Boomer generations retire, making way for Generations X and Y. As this change occurs, the workforce cultures are also changing to reflect the attitudes, goals, and beliefs of these younger workers. The transition brings with it much that is positive, but it also brings challenges. The workforce of the future will be much more diverse than it has been, presenting challenges that must be faced if we are going to be successful in keeping workers safe and healthy. Workplace conflict between and among these generations can generally be traced to the failure to communicate successfully or to comprehend what workers are doing and why. This paper will examine generational differences, and explore how to use cultural and generational differences to create effective training for all employees, by making use of the strengths each generation. The paper will include the findings of the National Academies study (Cullen, et al. 2013), as well as the recommendations offered by the NAS study committee in addressing the great crew change. Readers will be provided with practical options for dealing with generational diversity (as well as the many other diversities that generation X and Y bring to the workforce), with a focus on the safety and health of all of our workers.

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