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Reading the title of this post tells us that 70% of youth are not eligible for military service. This is an alarming number considering the biggest reasons why youth cannot enlist are because of inadequate education, criminal records, or physical problems (obesity).
In my earlier post I talked about the National Guard’s Patriot Academy allowing youth a second chance to obtain a high school diploma and serve their country at the same time. It will be interesting to see over the next few years how the Patriot Academy will impact the number of youth eligible to serve. This is a serious issue that deserves consideration and leaders in the educational sector to step-up and find ways to increase the numbers of youth that obtain a high school diploma. Aside from a potential security threat by not having enough potential recruits, youths without high school diplomas tend to be involved in criminal activity. This is a problem that as individuals and institutions we all need to make it our mission to curb it and figure out ways to give more youth opportunities. These numbers are a wake-up call for all those that don’t believe the educational system in our country doesn’t need a lot of help.
While the government and individual entities are looking for solutions to increase eligible youth, today’s military recruiters face unique challenges to meet their numbers. Finding enough high level young men and women interested in serving is no longer an easy task considering most are college bound. Going back to my earlier posts, recruiting will become reliant on non-traditional methods even more so in the coming years. As much as the military is looking to target large masses, recruiting in a challenging environment will require clever sub-targeting and speaking to youth in a relevant way that will make them respond to the messaging. This may not necessarily always mean targeting masses, instead, focused targeting on smaller segments within the 17-24 demographic. A television spot or methods that worked in the past will not necessarily work with the fickle millennials. Half the battle of recruiting will be the quality of the messaging and how tailored it is to this generation. We should see a shift of the marketing communications mix and a bigger focus on digital. To truly be able to reach this demographic we should be seeing a bigger focus on non-traditional marketing, as well as connecting to influencers of this demographic. The recruiting road ahead is a challenging one, but taking some risks and trying some new methods along the way will provide positive results and obtain more high level recruits.