Army Set To Meet Recruitment Target For First Time Since Capita Deal

The British Army says it is about to meet its recruitment target for the first time since working with Capita.

Numbers of those joining had fallen short every year since the 2012 contract with the private firm, as well as targets being missed for a decade before that.

The Army says latest figures show more than 100,000 people have applied to join the service between April 2019 and January 2020 - an increase of 5% compared to the same timeframe in recent years, according to Capita.

More than 9,000 of the recruits have started or agreed to begin their basic training since last April, marking an improvement from 2018/19 when less than two-thirds of the required amount was signed up.

However, the service remains 10% below strength, with around one in five recruits who join leaving before their Phase 2 training.

In 2018/19, a total of 116,312 applicants to join the British Army were either rejected or withdrew voluntarily from the process.

Capita's chief executive of British Army recruiting, Cath Possamai, said a "complete reset" had taken place in the relationship between her company and the Army, after enduring a "very tough road".

"It's been well-documented that we have struggled - it is complicated and difficult and demanding because they’re joining the Army, you know, they’re not joining Tescos," Ms Possamai said.

The positive results come shortly after a new recruitment campaign for 2020, which was unveiled last month - portraying the Army as a way to help boost self-confidence.

The service's 2019 campaign, which focused on targeting "Snow Flakes", "Selfie Addicts" and "Binge Gamers" has also been credited with some of the improvement in recruitment figures.

Army recruitment posters comp 1
The Army's 2019 recruitment campaign took a different approach to try and encourage new recruits (Pictures: British Army).

Despite the Army claiming more recent success around its recruitment, General Officer Commanding of Army Recruitment, Major General Paul Nanson, said more work needs to be done to keep number of new recruits on an "enduring footing".

Speaking to Forces News he stressed the need to avoid becoming "complacent" in efforts to "sustain the improvements".

The Government says the rise is partly down to what it calls "vast improvements" in the recruitment partnership between the Army and private company Capita.

In January 2019, the Army admitted "some bad mistakes and some errors" in getting new soldiers to join the service.

Later that year, the Ministry of Defence agreed a deal with a consultancy firm to develop a new recruiting programme for the military, following statistics which suggested all three services had suffered a decrease in their full-time strength.

One of the changes that has been made to help reach the Army's recruitment target is a relaxation of some strict medical rules for conditions including asthma, eczema, and particular musculoskeletal conditions.

Anonymous British soldiers boots

"I think we've looked and brought the medical standards in line with current reality," said Maj Gen Nanson.

"For example, asthma, if I look at asthma - before we said you had to be clear of an inhaler for four years. Joint service policy has taken that down to two years.

"The Army have looked at that, and said: 'We're willing to take the risk and go to one year'."

Maj Gen Nanson acknowledged there is some "risk" with the updated policy, but stated "mitigations" are being taken to prevent a drop in standards and that recruits will be monitored during training.

The Army says nearly 100% of its 9,404 target for new recruits to schedule a start date or actually begin basic training has been met, which Ms Possamai described as "fantastic".

"My team are absolutely buzzing," she said.

"When the contract was signed in 2012 – it's called the Recruiting Partnering Project, and both the Army and Capita would admit that they didn’t embark upon partnering with a true partnership mentality.

"Personally, I would say sorry. I've worked tirelessly, and I feel very passionately about making sure that what we deliver to the candidates is the best experience they can have."

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