Navy calls for all hands on deck

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is hoping to say ahoy to more mateys amid a shortage in the service.

Driving the news: The RCN has a new pitch: Try out a naval career on a one-year contract, no strings attached, and the Navy will either find a good career path for you or wish you well as you disembark to civilian life.

Why it matters: The Canadian military has been struggling with recruitment for years, and now it’s competing in a red-hot labour market to get more landlubbers on board.

  • The overall military was about 12,000 people short of its 100,000-troop target as of last fall, and the Navy had a 17% vacancy rate in September.

  • New recruits can make ~$3,200 to ~$4,300 a month during basic training, and signing bonuses can reach $20,000 for high-value positions. Automatic pay raises can bring a humble private to over $5,100 a month.

Why it’s happening: Morale seems to be an important factor in the Navy’s recruiting woes. In a recent op-ed, former RCN commander Ken Hansen said recruits have the “sense that they are not valued.”

  • Pay grades don’t reflect the unique demands of the job, there’s not enough time off, and promotions tend not to reward officers for investing in their teams, Hansen wrote.

Zoom out: Canada’s allies are struggling with recruitment, too. The UK saw a ~30% slowdown in recruitment last year, and the US has faced a shrinking pool of eligible recruits due to issues like obesity, drug use, and criminal records.