Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 15:45 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 15:45 | SYDNEY

Fitzgibbon has a point


Rory Medcalf


30 January 2008 16:51

Sam Roggeveen might well find Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon’s comments about Generation Y’s alleged case of collective attention-deficit disorder to be a bit too grandfatherly for his liking. But Mr Fitzgibbon has a point. New approaches are needed to ensure that defence forces in developed countries, with ageing demographic profiles and a surfeit of other job and travel opportunities, can secure their share of young talent.

And it is not only venerable folk like Australia’s Defence Minister (actually he’s only 46) who see younger generations as holding markedly different attitudes towards vocational commitment.  Plenty from the ranks of Gen Y (not to mention the 30-something dinosaurs of Sam’s and my Gen X) would acknowledge an aversion to the notion of anything resembling a career for life. I am also unconvinced by Sam’s suggestion that willingness to knuckle down for a few years of onerous tertiary education somehow equates with the sort of a commitment that a military career (even a short one) might entail. 

Perhaps this debate is at cross-purposes.  Mr Fitzgibbon’s main point, as I understand it, is that there is a need for new ways of giving young women and men a relatively brief and no-strings-attached experience of the military life, based on the perfectly reasonable assumption that even if most of these ‘work experience’ recruits don’t come back for more, some will who otherwise might never have considered a career in the armed forces.  From a recruiting perspective, that can hardly be bad.