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Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems

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Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems
Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems

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The Canadian Armed Forces is sounding the alarm over a severe shortage of recruits to fill thousands of vacant positions, a shortage so great that senior officers are already calling it a crisis.

On a chilly Tuesday afternoon, Robert Romero emerged from the Canadian Armed Forces recruiting point in downtown Ottawa with an envelope full of papers in his hands.

Originally from the Philippines, Romero has no direct experience serving in the Canadian Armed Forces; his interest stems largely from a sense of adventure and what he saw as a child in movies about soldiers.

“I idolized them,” he says. “I was hooked. Then I started researching the subject and became even more fascinated.”

Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems

Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems
Turns Out This is The Problem Canadian Military Recruiting Problems

Romero is one of 11 people who just wrote an aptitude test to determine what military professions future recruits are ready for. He pulled his results out of an envelope: intelligence officer, weather technician and cook.

He will now discuss it with his parents to decide which profession he is interested in, whether he wants to retake the test or forgo the whole exercise.

The Canadian Armed Forces are supposed to be going through a period of growth as new needs increase the demand for trained soldiers, sailors and airmen. The Liberal government laid out a plan in 2017 to add thousands of full- and part-time positions.

Although the plan was adopted after several years of troop shortages, there were signs that the military was turning the corner as recruitment began to outpace attrition.

“We were just starting to gain momentum when the pandemic broke out,” says Brig. Gen. Krista Brodie, in charge of overseeing the recruitment and training of troops.

During the first year of COVID-19, recruiting plummeted as the military closed recruiting and training centers. As a result, only 2,000 men were recruited in 2020-21, less than half of what was needed.

Nearly 4,800 recruits signed up in the following fiscal year as restrictions and bans were lifted.

However, Brodie says the Army is receiving about half the number of applicants needed per month to meet the Army’s goal of 5,900 recruits this year.

The shortfall is expected to exacerbate the current manpower shortage, with one in 10 of the Army’s 100,000 positions going unfilled.

“We’re certainly in a hiring crisis now,” Brodie says.

Many sectors are facing employment problems, and Statistics Canada reported a record number of vacancies in June. But the pandemic and labor shortages have coincided with what Brody calls a “cultural reimagining” of the military.

This has been marked by allegations of misconduct by senior officers and concerns about the growing mismatch between the composition of the military and Canadian society as a whole, leading to a desire for greater diversity in the ranks.

These efforts include an array of underrepresented groups, such as women and indigenous people, as well as broader measures to create a more inclusive workplace by relaxing dress codes, which Brody believes is paying off.

However, fewer Canadians are choosing military careers, and it’s not entirely clear why.

“I don’t think we have a good answer. I think there are many factors, components and aspects of the reasons,” says Brodie.

The Ministry of Defense is trying to better understand the problem, he added. It is also looking at possible solutions, such as financial incentives, ways to improve work-life balance and change public perception of the military.

Brodie could not say whether the diversity push is hurting more than helping, at least in terms of numbers, by alienating the traditional military contingent: young white men.

“Right now we can’t assess its impact. It’s too early,” he said. “But to be very, very clear, we want to have the right candidates, and the right candidates are those who reflect the values of the Canadian Armed Forces in the first place.”




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