Your Army Needs You Recruitment Campaign
Army

COMMENT: How Does The Army's New Recruitment Campaign Measure Up?

Rhicha Kapila examines the Army's latest recruitment campaign.

Your Army Needs You Recruitment Campaign

By Rhicha Kapila, military claims specialist at Bolt Burdon Kemp.

Are you a "snow flake"? A "selfie addict"? How about a "phone zombie" or a "class clown"?

If the answer is yes, then the Army needs your skills.

These are the questions being asked as part of the new advertising campaign from the British Army, based on the historic 'Your Country Needs You' poster from the First World War.

The new campaign looks to motivate Generation Z (those that are currently 16 to 25-years-old) to see their potential and that their skills could be utilised in the armed forces.

One advert sees the Army celebrating the levels of drive and confidence gaming and selfie addicts have.

Previously, the Army's recruitment campaigns have drawn criticism for being too politically correct.

So, does this latest one measure up? Not quite.

The adverts perpetuate gender stereotypes - men are portrayed as gamers and women as being addicted to social media.

This is particularly damaging - these adverts could have been an opportunity to shine a light on diversity.

However, the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, seems optimistic about the new campaign and argues it "shows that time spent in the Army equips people with skills for life and provides comradeship, adventure and opportunity like no other job does".

Why is it then that 47% of applicants dropped out of the process in 2017-18? This statistic points not to a recruitment issue, but more largely towards a retention problem within the armed forces.

In reality, this is not a new problem.

The military has been facing staffing shortages for some time – indeed the Commons Defence Committee was told in October 2017 that the Army had 77,000 trained troops compared with their annual target of 82,500.

Army recruitment posters comp 1
The new campaign features posters targeting "Snow Flakes", "Selfie Addicts" and "Binge Gamers" (Pictures: British Army).

The reason for these figures could be a result of government cuts and increasing low levels of job satisfaction; data released in 2017 suggested that 58% of service personnel are either ‘neutral’ or ‘unsatisfied’ with service life in general.

Part of this issue is that the problems are well-known in the public consciousness which will directly influence potential recruits’ impression of the military - inquiries into incidents that took place at Deepcut is just one example.

Put this important issue alongside people’s concerns about the welfare of veterans, and the increasing number of service personnel that suffer from mental health disorders (a 90% increase in medical discharges relating to mental health were found over the period of 2012 to 2017), it is no surprise then that retention is a problem.

Army recruitment poster comp 2
The new posters ask for "focus", "self-belief" and "spirit" (Pictures: British Army).

The Army's aim with their new campaign is admirable.

Attracting a more varied group of young people to the army can only be a good thing, although it is a shame some stereotypes persist.

However, there is no denying that recruitment and retention will continue to be an issue for our armed services until some fundamental problems are tackled.

Rhicha Kapila is head of the firm’s Military department and a partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp.

The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of forces.net.