Report 5—Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention—National Defence
Audit at a Glance Report 5—Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention—National Defence
What we examined (see Focus of the audit)
This audit focused on whether the Canadian Armed Forces implemented appropriate systems and practices to recruit, train, and retain the Regular Force members needed to achieve its objectives.
Why we did this audit
This audit is important because the Canadian Armed Forces must have an adequate number of members trained and available for duty to meet its domestic and international obligations.
What we concluded
We concluded that the Canadian Armed Forces implemented systems and practices to recruit, train, and retain the members it needed, but, as noted in this report, many of these systems and practices did not meet its needs or achieve its objectives.
Recruiting targets were set below the Regular Force’s needs. For certain occupations, insufficient numbers of applicants were attracted and processed. In addition, the process placed more emphasis on the Canadian Armed Forces’ timelines and capacities than on applicants’ needs, contributing to some prospective employees leaving the process and others being rejected. Once applicants are enrolled as members, lengthy training times can lead to frustration and attrition, so it is important to track new members with the goal of improving timeliness. Although the Regular Force knew the causes of attrition, it had not implemented or revised its most recent retention strategy.
In order to achieve the required number of trained members across occupations, the Regular Force must examine its methods of attracting and recruiting candidates, and training and retaining members. It must manage all phases of the process for each occupation. It should tailor and implement different approaches for each occupation to address each occupation’s unique challenges.
What we found
Overall, we found that the total number of Regular Force members had decreased, and that there had been a growing gap between the number of members needed and those who were fully trained. In our opinion, it is unlikely that the Regular Force will be able to reach the desired number of members by the 2018–19 fiscal year as planned. We also found that although the Canadian Armed Forces had established a goal of 25 percent for the representation of women, it did not set specific targets by occupation, nor did it have a strategy to achieve this goal.
We found that although the Regular Force had mechanisms in place to define its recruiting needs, those needs were not reflected in recruitment plans and targets. Instead, recruitment targets were based on National Defence’s capacity to process applications and enrol and train new members. Furthermore, we found that the total recruitment targets had been met by enrolling more members than had been set as targets in some occupations, leaving other occupations significantly below the required number of personnel.
This is important because the Canadian Armed Forces needs a sufficient number of trained members in the right balance of occupations to maintain its military capability and accomplish the missions set out in the Canada First Defence Strategy.
Recommendation. We made no recommendations in this area of examination.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should establish appropriate representation goals for women for each occupation. It should also develop and implement measures to achieve them.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should review its recruiting and training capacity and align this with its planning process to ensure that the recruiting plan reflects the personnel required in each occupation.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should develop and implement a three- to five-year target with an action plan for each occupation to meet recruiting needs, track progress, and take corrective action where necessary.
Getting and developing the right people
Overall, we found that the Regular Force was unable to attract a sufficient number of qualified applicants for some occupations. Recruiters did not always have the support needed to provide the necessary information to applicants. We also found that certain practices in the recruitment process prevented qualified candidates from being enrolled. Once recruits were enrolled, they had minimal waiting times for basic training, but they had considerable waiting times for some occupational training. In addition, the Regular Force lacked sufficient mechanisms to oversee members’ progress in training programs.
This is important because the manner in which the process for applicants is carried out and new recruits are trained has a large impact on how long they will stay in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is also more cost-effective to keep applicants and new trainees in the process, rather than to lose them and have to start over with new members.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should implement targeted measures to attract enough qualified applicants for all occupations for which it has difficulty attracting applicants.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should review its selection process with a view to improving its efficiency—including better file management methods and increased flexibility in the recruitment process—in order to maintain a sufficient pool of qualified applicants.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should implement mechanisms for tracking members in occupational training in order to improve the timeliness of training.
Keeping the right people
Overall, we found that the Regular Force experienced high levels of attrition in some occupations. Although it knew the causes of attrition, the Regular Force had not implemented its most recent overall retention strategy, nor had it developed specific strategies to respond to the challenges of each occupation.
This finding matters because the military’s operational capability depends on the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to retain highly specialized, trained, and experienced military personnel on a long-term basis. It is also important because training and developing people is expensive, particularly in certain occupations; it is therefore more cost-effective for National Defence if, once trained, members stay with the Canadian Armed Forces.
Recommendation. The Canadian Armed Forces should develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate measures to optimize retention for each occupation.
Entity Responses to Recommendations
National Defence agrees with our recommendations, and has responded (see List of Recommendations).
|Report of the||Auditor General of Canada|
|Type of product||Performance audit|
|Completion date||28 September 2016|
|Tabling date||29 November 2016|
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