This marks the most successful recruiting year in 5 years and significantly exceeds the 80% target given by the Public Accounts Committee in January 2019, say the Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry of Defence have provided an update on progress on the priorities set by the Secretary of State for each of the Service Chiefs and whether these have changed due to, or been impacted by, the Covid-19 pandemic, the following outlines the Secretary of State’s priority for the Army and the progress made towards them.
The following response was published today as a response from the Ministry of Defence to follow-up questions to the Defence Secretary following a session of the Defence Committee on the 23rd April.
“A successful recruiting year combined with a revised, programmatic approach to retention is starting to yield positive results. As at 1 April 2020 the Army’s Full Time Trained Strength was 79,010 (+310 since 1 October 2019) and the Full Time Trade Trained Strength was 73,720 (+50 since 1 January 2020). Regular Workforce Growth has remained a priority for the Army throughout the COVID-19 period, building on the positive gains on both inflow and retention achieved during 19/20.
During recruiting year 2019/20, the Regular Soldier intake to the Untrained Army was 9,067, achieving 96% of the end of year target. This marks the most successful recruiting year in 5 years and significantly exceeds the 80% target given by the Public Accounts Committee in January 2019. Of note, the number of candidates loaded to Basic Training courses surpassed the target set and the shortfall in Basic Training Starts was only due to the final intakes of the recruiting year being postponed due to Covid-19. The Army also exceeded the Direct Entry Officer target of 620.
The Army lost approximately five training weeks between pausing non-essential activity and restarting Basic Training on 11 May 20. At present, Basic Training is constrained to around 50% of capacity by social distancing and other Force Health Protection measures. Current planning assumes we will not return to full loading until at least September. In order to achieve the planned 9,867 Regular soldier Basic Training Starts by 31 March 2021, the Army is shortening some non-Infantry courses (primarily by increasing the length of the training day and by training over some weekends) and maximising the use of available accommodation. Officer Training resumed at Sandhurst from 17 May, achieving full capacity a week later primarily because individual rooms support increased social distancing. With some minor changes to course construct, Regular and Reserve Officer training remains on target.
Plans to restart face to face recruitment are progressing. Applicants to join the Army are completing much more of their application online, with virtual support provided by both military and civilian recruiters. Although it is too early to assess whether this change in approach is affecting candidates’ success in getting through the pipeline, initial feedback has been positive and early indications are that applications are notably higher that at the same time last year. Recruitment processes will continue to be reviewed and improved to incorporate any lessons learned from virtual activity during lockdown. All Assessment Centres have now reopened, albeit at reduced capacity, with plans being developed to increase that capacity as soon as possible.
Prior to COVID-19 the Voluntary Outflow (VO) rate for soldiers had decreased from a peak of 6.9% to 6.7%. The Army continues to aim to reduce Involuntary Outflow (IVO) through medical and discipline and has reduced Other Rank Medical IVO from 2.1% to 1.4% in the last 12 months.
In response to COVID-19 the Army rapidly introduced a number of measures to retain service personnel for longer. Measures included enabling Notice to Terminate (NTT) and Premature Voluntary Retirement (PVR) withdrawals and extension of service where requested. It is too soon to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Army’s Workforce Strength in the long-term but early indicators suggest a decrease in Notice to Terminate (NTT) submissions and an increase in NTT withdrawals and extension requests which are likely to reduce VO in the short term.”