Commandant of Royal Military College St-Jean: Millennials a great fit for the Canadian Armed Forces

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Article / November 27, 2018 / Project number: 18-0418

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By Yves Bélanger, Le Servir

What does the term “Millennium generation” mean? Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials, also known as Generation Y, grew up with computer technology at their fingertips. They are considered to have excellent command of communication, media and digital technologies.

Saint-Jean, Quebec — Millennials are perceived as different from previous generations, particularly regarding their relationship with technology and their world view. However, Colonel Gervais Carpentier, Commandant of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean (RMC Saint-Jean), maintains that Millennials have more similarities than differences when compared to previous generations and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has a lot to offer them.

Col Carpentier, who has 31 years of service as a CAF officer, has had the opportunity to meet people of different generations throughout his career.

In his view, the differences between them are not as great as one might think. “No generation has ever been studied as much as that of the Millennials. However, they tend to be observed in silos. We shouldn’t forget that we all live in the same society.”

He states that, over the decades, the CAF has changed and Millennials can be easily integrated into it. “In recent years, the CAF has taken its membership more into account. Members are at the heart of the new policies that are adopted,” he explained, recalling the motto, “People First, Mission Always.”

With the many jobs and opportunities offered by the CAF, it is an excellent employer for today’s youth. “Millennials are known to change jobs every three to four years. In the CAF, they can do it while staying in the organization,” stated the commandant of RMC Saint-Jean.

He pointed out that the organization’s values correspond in many ways to those of the new generation, “We have made great strides in terms of diversity and inclusion, among other things.”

As for the new generation’s need for recognition, it is easy for them to find what they are looking for in the CAF. “There are many opportunities in our organization for people who want to take up challenges. For example, there are foreign missions or various operations. These are all opportunities for men and women to take pride in their work and garner recognition for their accomplishments.”

Aware that Millennials often tend not to set medium- and long-term goals, the CF member does not see anything to worry about. “We will help them to set goals. That’s the role of a leader.”

Col Carpentier ended by maintaining that the CAF has a lot to gain from the arrival of the Millennials in its ranks.

“They grew up with computers, smart telephones and electronic tablets at home. Technology is part of their lives, and we need their skills in this area.”

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