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Recruiting Today's Youth: How Can We Increase Youth Propensity to Join the Air Force During This Millennium

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Since the end of the Cold War, youth propensity, the stated likelihood that a youth will volunteer to serve in the military, has declined. Many reasons have been cited for this decline, and the fact that economics are good always leads the pack. Although economics are good, a rising stock market and its components should not be considered showstoppers for recruiting our nations youth to serve in the Air Force. This paper will examine the decline of todays youth propensity as related to Air Force recruiting. Then, based on findings, recommendations will be made for long-term initiatives focused on enhancing propensity trends. Why is propensity so important Annual data on propensity to enlist helps predict the number of youth that may serve in the military--lower propensity equals the likelihood of lower enlistment. Dr. Jerry Lehnus and his staff at the Defense Manpower Data Center have tracked youth career plans and enlistment propensity since 1975. Annual results of their Youth Attitude Tracking Study YATS provide data used by Congress, the Department of Defense DoD, service secretaries and chiefs, and services personnel and recruiting experts. YATS indicated positive propensity declined from 23 percent in 1989 to under 19 percent in 1998--the lowest it has ever been. This paper will look at why propensity dropped so drastically in the past few years and what measures can be taken to turn this situation around.

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  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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