Royal Navy Re Recruitment

I saw this on the Daily Mail and so was instantly dubious but no, tis true!

Please come back…

FireShot Capture - Engineers I Royal Navy - https___www.royalnavy.mod.uk_reentry


Words fail me, this is not how to manage your most precious asset and I can only imagine the nightmare the manning team in the RN is experiencing on a daily basis. Perhaps it is not a case of too many deployments and not enough ships but too many deployments and not enough people.

You also have to wonder if there are opportunities to cross post engineers from the RAF and Army, at least for the short term as a way of helping the Royal Navy, although I expect the opportunities would be limited.

OP ENTIRETY reciprocation springs to mind.


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July 6, 2015 12:07 pm

I suppose if they need them they need them and manning have to do whatever they can to fill in the empty posts. I don’t think they’ll recruit many but they can but try.

‘if there are opportunities to cross post engineers from the RAF’

It’s happened in the past, but I agree there’s no scope this time to move people to others services.

July 6, 2015 12:52 pm

I can’t see how getting engineers from the RAF will help… The RAF are having their own problems retaining aircraft technicians anyway and I’m not sure that a Weapons Engineer in the RN is quite the same as an armaments technician in the RAF.

…I have to say, I think this is probably the best way in the short term… It’s not going to be a long-term fix, though.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
July 6, 2015 1:34 pm

Surely question 1 is how do you stop them leaving in the first place, they may have to have a serious think about how much they pay engineers, in the private sector keeping a competitive rate of pay is key why should the military be different. They already have the issue of deployments to deal with, if I get sent overseas for work I would get a bonus for time spent away from family etc, combining that with overtime and other payments(depending on location) I could probably expect to at least double my take home pay and this is on top of a much more competitive wage than what the RN pay.

Alien Dave
Alien Dave
July 6, 2015 1:45 pm

Left the service three years ago. Was out of the bracket for redundancy, so put my notice in. Trouble is, most of the Senior Rate’s of my generation did the same and we suspect drafty didn’t factor that into his redundancy requirements figures… Oops!

This is only one of a number of initiatives to get more personnel into uniform. It’ll be an expensive exercise, if I had qualified for redundancy I’d have been paid off to the tune of £30K+. Couple this with a golden (re) hello of apparently up to £50K (pre-tax figures obtained from the NAAFI queue). I don’t know many people who are seriously considering going back in – we’re too busy laughing. That, and the fact that engineers in industry are commanding better pay and conditions these days due to a national shortage across all sectors means most people would be taking an effective pay drop to go back in.

I still work in the defence industry, and, as I tell my ex-colleagues on a regular basis – “The grass IS greener on the outside!”.

July 6, 2015 2:53 pm

It seems a reasonable thing to try , to at least let individuals know there is a path back and its not a one way street. If the total package does not match an equivalent civi role at least ( which does not include putting ones life on the line ) you have an uphill struggle to recruit, retain and in this case re-recruit. It seems to me that a recruitment photo of landing on a beach in St Georgia in RHIB to do god knows what wouldn’t punch everyone’s ticket :-)

July 6, 2015 3:49 pm

I considered it (recent engineering grad), but figured i’d sooner take a job in a company which is at least stable with growth prospects.

July 6, 2015 5:01 pm

They clearly aren’t paying competitive salaries for highly skilled jobs, however it must also be in part down to the lack of job security.

Who can blame lots of regulars leaving the services to seek more stable and better paid employment elsewhere after the continual shrinkage’s in manpower levels since the end of the Cold War.

Particularly with a continuing, pig-headed commitment to deficit cutting austerity it could be a case of many choosing to jump ship before they are pushed.

July 6, 2015 5:10 pm

I do think its a problem of the RN’s (MoD’s) own creation, cuts and less incentives to new blood; not being able to compete with the large engineering firms that swoops into universities every June to cherry-pick the high performers… too much “over qualified” snobbiness in selection, hoping to get the cream of the crop without bothering to select those with the potential, because there is less money to train them up in house.

And for those who remain in the service, facing more and more BS and stretched work schedules/shifts/deployments because of a thinning pool of expertise.

The RAF does help out the RN, and I imagine the Army would too given certain roles, but as identified by others; its not a long term solution.

It’d be very interesting to see how the RN manages, and what the crew composition is, when QEC sallies fourth on her first deployment/work up.

July 6, 2015 5:25 pm

Seems like the options for change problems all over again. Armed forces are seen to be making large numbers of it’s members redundant so recruiting drops while pinch trades are worked harder to cover the gap and retention starts to fall rapidly, all the while the economy starts to pick up offering a better salary and a stable home life.

Out of interest I just looked up the starting salary of an Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) which is £14,492. As you progress in your role and move up the ranks you could earn anything from £16,073 up to £94,362 – depending on your skills and qualifications.

So £16,000 after you finish training, hardly an enticing wage this day and age. But the RN website did say ‘More than just a well paid job’

It seems to be a problem for the whole of the forces though and not just the dark blue.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 6, 2015 5:33 pm

It’s very little to do with universities, cream of the crop or over-qualification.

What is happening is that a significant proportion of the SR and JO engineering population is finding itself working on ever-ageing ships and aircraft which have had maintenance deferred, or brand-new ships for which the appropriate logistic support has not been provided. The good ones are also ending up doing more frequent lengthy deployments and given that you’re talking about people in their mid-to late twenties, early thirties, that’s precisely when family demands tend to make this even harder. Unsurprisingly, many are voting with their feet, which is the reason for the USCG engineering augmentation.

I’m reasonably sure that there are no RAF or army engineers serving on ships on any sort of permanent basis, not least because the RAF are having exactly the same issues (as evidenced by the airworthiness troubles on the Tornado force at Lossie a couple of years back).

The only way this is going to get fixed is with time, effort and money, both for pay packages and for additional staff and training. See Project Faraday for details…..

As far as QE is concerned, the major headache with that platform is likely to be the availability of sufficient engineering staff with an ME (electrical) background to deal with the propulsion and electrical distribution system, which at 11kVA is different (for good reasons) to all other RN ships.

Rocket Banana
July 6, 2015 8:00 pm

It’s the beginning of the end.

Demand = HIGH
Supply = LOW

Wages (and/or benefits) must rise so costs will rise = Bankrupt!

Of course, we could bring back National Service for anyone that doesn’t get a University place. That will probably expose a few extra people to the possibility of working for the armed forces.

However, I think it all started to go wrong in April 1991 and completed going wrong in April 1995… which seems to link nicely with the Defence Acquisition post on the other thread.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 6, 2015 8:45 pm

The figures in the article suggest the Navy paid off 500 engineers four years ago at an average of twenty grand each.

Well, if the Navy didn’t need them for four years, they still saved a few quid in the meantime.

Obviously not ideal though. And the retention problem does keep cropping up whenever there’s employment instability.

All the civilization since the early ’90s has been a problem too. Home-based technician and operative posts used to allow the sicknotes and compassionate cases to be shuffled between deploying units and their rear parties. Once all the domestic military posts were farmed out to civilian contractors, the built-in reserve vanished; minor injuries and sickness then immediately leave the frontline units undermanned. Cuts inefficiency and costs on the spreadsheets, but just adds to the problems when applied in the real world.

July 6, 2015 8:57 pm

Simon – good point I hadn’t considered – once when youngsters went into the forces they were joining a cadre that was quite well paid and very well equipped, clearly valued by the Government and the population at large. The investment in up-to-the-minute kit meant they were in charge of more modern and more exciting stuff than their civvy mates. Big kudos and feel-good factor.

Now the recruit knows the organisation he is to work within has mostly ageing equipment, kept serviceable but still old. The guys he went to school with may well get more modern stuff to use in civilian work. The Government keeps reducing the budget (unlike those for schools NHS and Foreign Aid) like defence really isn’t important any more. PTSD is rife but the military covenant doesn’t seem to help any more. And the one-time Crown Immunity that limited legal prosecution for actions taken under extreme stress while doing Her Majesty’s bidding as best they could has evaporated, leaving the legal equivalent of a hangman’s noose hanging just over each serviceman’s head waiting to be triggered by some oily journalist’s media outrage at one historical dubious decision or another. Do we really have to wonder why recruitment is low?

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
July 6, 2015 9:58 pm

This is very similar to the issue that killed the navy of Venice.
Shortage of staff vital for the technology, due to competition from the civilian economy.

July 7, 2015 3:03 am

Personnel retainment/re-enlistment is overrated.
An attractive job is all-important for the people in said job, or who left the military service to get a better job.

Yet for the nation, qualified personnel leaving the armed services equal reserve personnel for times of need – reserve personnel that needs not be paid in peacetime.

Imagine a military where everyone joins at 18 y.o. and leaves at 50 y.o..
There would be no personnel reserves, expansion in wartime would hit an effective ceiling at doubling its numbers. This is less of a concern for navy and air force, but extremely important for a land force.

July 7, 2015 4:07 pm

‘The only way this is going to get fixed is with time, effort and money, both for pay packages and for additional staff and training. See Project Faraday for details…..’

The trouble is once the flow of personnel starts it’s hard to stem due to the increasing knock effects of losing manpower at a rate that you cannot replace. It’s no point telling someone who is pissed off today that everything will be all rosy in 3 years time. Is anyone aware of any studies done by the MOD into the problems of recruitment and retention after ‘options for change’?

‘Personnel retainment/re-enlistment is overrated.’

Not really when you have a small professional force you need to strike a balance between retaining personnel so that they gain enough experience to be capable and to allow for fresh blood and ideas to enter the organisation. Losing key personnel faster than you can replace them and therefore not keep any experience at all levels would be problematic for any organisation and not just an armed force.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 7, 2015 4:46 pm

“The trouble is once the flow of personnel starts it’s hard to stem due to the increasing knock effects of losing manpower at a rate that you cannot replace. ”

Which is precisely why the RN has been putting things in place like amended deployment schedules, like the loan of USCG engineers and initiatives like Faraday. A challenge compounded by the recent changes in ToS, pensions etc and the shrinkage of the fleet.

Time will tell whether they work or not, but at least it’s not a case of “la, la, la….”

July 7, 2015 4:53 pm

Brian Black has touched on the nub of the issue 500 or so people being redundant during the last round of defence cuts.

Many of the people let go at the time in the Royal Navy (and RAF for that matter) were mid career. In other words experienced but with plenty of years of service still ahead, now we are paying the price for that decision! When the smaller pool of people who were experienced but closer to the end of their career start to leave or go to other more lucrative industries you end up with a massive skills gap. It is all very well recruiting lots of new young people but if you haven’t got that solid core of personnel who can nurture them it is a wasted exercise. On a side note the RAF is apparently trying to attract back WSO who were booted out a few years back as surplus to requirements because they are now needed with the Tornado OSD extension and squadron retention with no training pipeline to fill the gap!

July 7, 2015 4:55 pm

‘Time will tell whether they work or not, but at least it’s not a case of “la, la, la….”‘

Why do you always assume that a comment aimed at the Navy is an attack on them? It took close to adecade to stabilise the retention and recruitment (if indeed they are stabilised) problems caused by ‘options for change’ and then ‘front line first’ and in no small part was down to actively recruiting from the Commonwealth nations to fill the gap and a helping hand from the recession. It’s been a constant problem that is getting harder to fix every time.

July 7, 2015 5:53 pm

Perhaps government grants to potential high flyers to a local college to myself Welbeck The Defence. Prince Phillip recently inspected the school this Saturday with Spitfire flypast and a display by the RAF Falcons quite a day.
Also it kept Phil away from mucking about in the politics of his homeland prior to their referendum, not that he would say anything out of order :-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
July 7, 2015 6:38 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven


I assumed no such thing. Simply pointed out that the Navy recognised the issue and are trying to do something about it. End of.

Why so sensitive?

July 8, 2015 8:42 am
Reply to  Not a Boffin


Sorry it was probably the way I read it, Internet and context etc :-)

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
July 8, 2015 1:16 pm
Reply to  S O

S O: I would be very surprised if many of the reserves who left a service 5, 10, 15+ years ago would be qualified in the current equipment, fit enough, or interested, to serve again in a time of need.

July 8, 2015 2:45 pm

On recruitment in general , if the vocational representatives just bang on about how bad the pay is , the terrible working conditions , the lack of institutional support by their employer , the lack of out of job advantages i.e. preferential housing treatment , discounted mortgages , free transport/parking etc and banging on about it the press at every opportunity AND the bemoaning the fact there is not enough recruits to their respective vocation and there is/will be a shortage and so existing staff are overworked/underpaid and so the spiral descends. If the nursing,teaching,policing,train drivers etc representatives be they the associate bodies or their respective unions refrained from saying how bad it is and maybe pushed the upside for a while things might turn around for their vocations recruitment. Expect outrage from these bodies over the 1% public sector pay increase set today.
( perhaps 3 months in a 24/7 call centre on less than £10 an hr would refresh their attitude )