Millennials are too 'self-interested' to pursue military career, says British Army chief

'They want to know what's in it for them,' General Carter says.

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The Independent Online

Millennials are too “self-interested” to pursue a life in the military and a greater effort must be made to recruit them, according to the head of the British Army.

General Nick Carter told a conference in London that young people born in the 1980s and 1990s were overly concerned with “instant self-gratification” and “what’s in it for them” when they chose a career, leading them to reject the military option outright.

“We are now dealing with a different generation, Generation Y, and they have a slightly different expectation of life,” General Carter said, while announcing a new collaboration between British businesses and the army. “It tends to be slightly self-interested, very committed.”

He added: “They are much more adaptable to the information age than my generation, they want to know what’s in it for them. They are looking for instant self-gratification. What we wish to do is empower every level to seize opportunities that further our cause.

"Whether you are led or whether you are a leader, leaders don't accept the status quo, they set a clear direction. They have a duty to set standards and have the moral courage to enforce them. We need help in explaining what this is all about and persuading employers that this is not a burden, it's actually a bonus."

The British Army was looking to recruit young people from production, creative areas and fashion design to the reserves to build a “portfolio of ideas”, he said. 

General Carter also helped tp re-launch the Armed Forces Covenant - a hypothetical agreement first signed in 2013 between military personnel and the nation which means they forgo certain rights like free speech while in uniform.

It followed last week's launch of a new UK-wide advertising campaign by the British Army to promote “unique lasting bonds of friendship” formed in service.

It currently has 79,000 fully trained soldiers, with a target of 82,000 by 2020.