Hardly any young people are becoming hams anymore

This is what Ed Muns, W0YK, said in an interview the other day, and goes on with because they see this as kind of old school stuff.

A year ago the ARRL web site said: Amateur Radio showing steady growth in the US“. AH0A’s website with statistics over the US ham population backs this up with the curve shown here. Even in my local club we are now seeing young people signing up for licence classes. 

How different perspectives! How has an old radio amateur like W0YK come to believe in the myth of declining numbers of hams?

Sverre Holm, LA3ZA, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Norway. Contact him at [email protected].

10 Responses to “Hardly any young people are becoming hams anymore”

  • Jim K4AHO:

    What we need to know is where is this growth coming from. We need to look at our classes and testing sessions and determine the dominate demographic. That is our fertile ground. From watching my Grandsons grow up, I think kids are so bombarded by high technology and educational demands from schools and parents, that they no energy or time left for hobbies of any sort.

    Our true growth may be coming from young adults that are more settled and have more time and money to spend on a hobby.

    I think shotgunning kids with Ham Radio demo’s is a waste of time and resources.

  • Paul, W3FIS:

    I think is is a combination of the “prepper” and “maker” crowds.

    73 /paul W3FIS

  • Don N4KC:

    Lots of factors at play here. First, remember that we were baby-boomers…that huge influx of kids who came along in the late ’50s and early ’60s. That alone swelled the number of young hams. We have not had that kind of baby boom since.

    K4AHO is correct, too, that modern society puts quite a bit of pressure on kids now. Little wonder they gravitate to video games where no license or learning are required.

    Still, I’m optimistic. If we continue to stress all that our hobby offers, the chances of many younger people joining our ranks goes up. Also, don’t forget the middle-aged to older bunch. They have more disposable income and, once the career ladder has been scaled, more time for such pursuits.

    Our hobby is not for everyone. Much as we love it, not everybody will. Let’s just do a better job of presenting exactly what we are and what we do and we’ll infect plenty of potential hams with the on-the-air virus…regardless their age!

    Don N4KC

  • Pesce PU2LXN:

    See the article:

    Amateur Radio: Not A Hobby For Everybody
    from Don Keith, N4KC on November 16, 2010

    at http://www.eham.net/articles/24826

    Pesce – PU2LXN

  • Tom KJ9P:

    All of the opinions expressed are valid. What I am finding exciting, is the experimentation going on with applying the Raspberry PI, ARDUINO and similar devices to
    Amateur Radio.

    I am getting interest from my Grandson, who is in the age group, that learning coding (cpu) , is being encouraged. To add to that interest, those devices today are in the relative price range of the surplus electronic devices we bought at the end of WW II.

    O.K., he is 13 and I am 75. His first question to me was “Grampa? How did you build a
    repeater using a Raspberry PI?” DING! The door has openend. The “light is burning”.

    I may get him away from his cell phone after all. A future Ham perhaps?

    Tom KJ9P

  • Bernie - KD1BD:

    I wonder if the Boomer generation is another source of growth as well. As a kid in the 60s I was deep into SWL and CB, and later into scanning. Never got my ham ticket until 2013 at age 65 when a sabbatical gave me a block of time to hunker down and take all three tests. I still haven’t had my first QSO but I’m all set for whenever I decide to retire. I’ll bet there are others like me in among the new old hams.

  • Jeff - KE7ACY:

    I didn’t get my license until 2004 (at age 51). If young people aren’t getting licensed, it’s because we as hams aren’t reaching out to them. We aren’t promoting STEM in the school systems, we aren’t pushing for ham clubs in the schools (or supporting the ones that already exist). We aren’t making near space balloon launches available as science platforms, etc. etc. etc.

    If YOU aren’t reaching out to young people, who else is going to do it??

    The clubs in my area are making a concerted effort to reach young people. Scouts are a good example where reaching out has definite benefits all the way around. But if you don’t do it yourself, how can you expect it to happen??

  • peter kg5wy:

    I agree with Jim and Pesce.
    I also think it’s like unemployment figuring. Some information and sources is left out.

  • Chris Valliant:

    I tried getting my licence when I was young and quite into CB radio’s. But I found that the HAM’s I talked to just didn’t have the time to talk to me. It seemed to me that they looked down on me. So I just gave up on the whole thing at the time but now I am trying to get back into it and even took a class, but when it came time for the exam my dyslexia came back in spades (probably due to stress) and I was so close to passing. But I think if younger people could realize how much fun it is, and what you can do with it I am sure the 15-20 year old’s would get on board. They just have to make the exam more relevant to what kids are learning today.
    Anyway, just my two cents.
    I will have my licence one day.

  • Sverre LA3ZA:

    I am happy that my slightly ironic post has given rise to so many comments. I see new hams coming to the hobby for VHF/UHF local communications, but also for access to frequencies for drones. Not so many preppers in Norway that I know of.

    Good luck to Chris – I do hope you get your license soon. I almost got mine as a teenager, but didn’t. In the end I got it when I was almost 50 years old and I have enjoyed it since.

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