The 24th General Conference of International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) convened September 17 – 23 in Landshut, Germany, with representatives of 40 member-societies present and another 13 represented by proxy. IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH/G4HUA, welcomed the attendees, urging them to reflect upon what will attract the majority of young people into Amateur Radio, “and what our mutual expectations should be.” Ellam said his personal observation is that, while some younger people are interested in the more traditional aspects of Amateur Radio, many are only interested in ham radio as an adjunct to other possibly unrelated interests.
“I applaud the excellent work that has been undertaken in this region through the Youngsters on the Air (YOTA) program.” Tim said, crediting the hard work of IARU Region 1 Youth Working Group Chair Lisa Leenders, PA2LS. YOTA’s summer Amateur Radio camps have attracted young hams from around the world; this year’s was held in the UK.
“Our ambition should be to embrace these individuals in their activities and accept that some of the more traditional aspects of the hobby will hold little interest to them, and indeed may no longer be relevant,” he continued. “That is not to say that some are not enthused with what we all hold as the core of our hobby, such as contesting or operating generally. I fear, though, that we need to look at what will attract the new generations to Amateur Radio and make sure we promote Amateur Radio as meeting their needs, rather than promoting the historical view of what Amateur Radio has to offer.”