Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Armed Forces: Recruitment

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 20th May 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to (a) recruit and (b) retain armed forces personnel.

Photo of James Heappey James Heappey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

We remain committed to maintaining the overall size of the Armed Forces.

Importantly, the Services continue to meet all operational commitments, keeping the country and its interests safe. The Armed Forces are fully funded to meet their target strength and we continue to increase funding year on year.

There are a range of measures under way to improve recruitment and retention, and these are kept under constant review. These include the following:


All three Services are closely focused on recruiting processes to ensure they are converting high levels of interest into trained strength, maximising the potential of all applicants.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines operate a Personnel Recovery Programme which includes initiatives to improve inflow (gains to trained strength), throughflow (promotions) and outflow (reducing voluntary resignations).

The Army Confidence 2020 campaign follows the highly successful 2019 ‘Your Army Needs You’ campaign, which focused on seeing beyond stereotypes to spot young people’s potential. The campaign has begun well and is directly comparable to last year’s iteration which delivered the highest number of applications since 2014. Army Reserve recruitment is improving and performing strongly, with an increase of 29.5% in the last calendar year.

The Royal Air Force established Enterprise Collaboration Teams to oversee critical skills groups and deliver a range of recruitment initiatives. Specialist Recruitment Teams have also been created for hard to recruit branches and trades, Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) and female personnel. A major programme to encourage re-joiners is also underway.


We have increased the attractiveness of our offer to Service personnel by securing a pay rise of 2.9% for all up to 1-star rank. Financial Retention Incentives are also being used to improve retention in certain priority areas.

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) is now being trialled at scale in selected sites. FAM is intended to give Service personnel greater choice over their housing options to better suit their lifestyles and preferences.

Flexible Service introduces the potential for Service personnel to alter their career commitment for set periods of time. This should see more people staying in the Armed Forces who may otherwise have decided to leave in order to meet competing demands on their time, such as caring or parental responsibilities.

Our People Concept Development project involves collaborating with industry to tackle the critical skills challenge and explore new ways to access the skilled people we need. By looking at demand across the public and private sector, finding ways to share skills and make it easier for people to move around different elements of Defence, we aim to increase retention of skilled people.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes3 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.