VIDEO: Virtual reality shows exciting army life at recruitment event in Queensgate

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Ever wondered what it is like to drive a tank or execute a parachute jump?

Then pop down to Queensgate Shopping Centre this weekend to experience through virtual reality a bit more about the army lifestyle.

Major Grant Pocock, senior careers adviser, in Queensgate

Major Grant Pocock, senior careers adviser, in Queensgate

The recruitment event is all part of a new, bold approach by the British Army to attract what it calls Generation Z (16-24-year-olds).

With a new TV ads campaign launching to challenge stereotypes and show young people how they can grow and become better versions of themselves, the army stopped off in Queensgate today (Saturday, February 6) and will be back again tomorrow.

To coincide with the launch of the adverts, soldiers from the Regular Army and Army Reserve were here to inspire, motivate and surprise people into thinking differently about the army as an employer.

Members of the public are invited to take part in a number of physical and mental challenges. These include trying out the virtual technology Gear VR headsets which include a parachute jump, urban combat training, adventure training and a tank assault.

There is also a challenging BATAK wall which tests hand-eye co-ordination and stamina, as well as a river crossing challenge.

The advertising campaign, Named A Better You, represents a departure from traditional army recruitment, using the strapline: ‘Don’t join the Army. Don’t become a better you’.

The television campaign is the first army advert which does not depict serving soldiers and includes no weaponry or scenes of combat. Instead, it focuses on grabbing the attention of today’s young people with more authentic and real dialogue.

The recruitment campaign focuses heavily on existing soldiers’ real experiences and journeys of personal growth in the army, which have been captured in a new survey among serving soldiers. Soldiers said:

· The army has helped them to: learn new skills (70 per cent), become more confident (65 per cent), gain new qualifications (59 per cent), be independent (55 per cent) and become better at communicating with people (55 per cent).

· Half of soldiers said their parents initially were not supportive of their decision to join, while one in four said their friends did not want them to join. Yet, since joining, the majority said these opinions had been changed.

· When asked why Generation Z should join the army, soldiers listed the following main reasons: job security (55 per cent), to make something of your lives (49 per cent), for a chance to be a better you (41 per cent), for the pride of serving your country (39 per cent).

Cpl Gareth Johnston (29) said: “Being in the army has really grown my confidence and given me a purpose in life that I didn’t have before joining.

“During my time in the army I have visited Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus, Canada and all over Europe. I have been able to do some amazing things, including snowboarding, mountain biking and white rafting, and have gained a range of qualifications that will help me both in my army career and in civilian employment if I ever decide to leave the Armed Forces.

“Being in the army has helped me to become a better version of myself – I’m incredibly proud to be doing something that challenges me, makes me strive to reach my full potential and really helps to make a difference.”