Thursday, July 20, 2006

Military Recruitment: Waiting and Waiting

Military's recruitment methods slammed
Forces' lack of responsiveness scaring off many talented people, Ombudsman says

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Television ads attempt to lure young Canadian men and women to join the Forces with promises of action and exciting careers, but Canada's defence ombudsman says the welcome is not always so warm for those who actually try to enlist.

Yves Côté says he is concerned about the number of people who have told his office that they quit the recruitment process, or were about to quit, because of an unsatisfactory experience during recruiting.

"The Canadian Forces must improve the quality and timeliness of the service provided to applicants to ensure that it does not routinely lose the services of talented Canadians interested in a military career," Mr. Côté told a news conference yesterday as he released a report on recruitment problems.

He cited the case of a doctor who decided to join the military.

"He said he went to his recruiting forces and said, 'I would like to live this kind of life, this kind of challenge.' This, at a time, as we all know, that the Canadian Forces is facing a huge shortage in terms of medical doctors," Mr. Côté said.

But "the recruiting centre didn't have anything good or positive to say to him. He went away and called back a couple of times after that and said, 'What is happening on my file?' and they said, 'We'll get back to you.' "

Eventually, the young doctor was forced to find another way into the military through an officer friend.

That should not happen in a period when the Forces are in the process of trying to expand their numbers significantly, Mr. Côté said.
There were four majors areas of complaints fielded by his office:

A lack of responsiveness on the part of some recruiters

Excessive delays in the process, particularly in terms of medical and security checks

Difficulties experienced in transferring between the reserves and regular forces and vice versa

Some people skilled in trades, where there were large shortages, were promised big bonuses for enlisting, only to find that the bonuses evaporated after they had been processed because the shortages had disappeared.

"The recruiting system can do better, and must do better. It must become more responsive to the people who are seeking a career in the military," Mr. Côté said.

"Simply put, it must become a 'client-focused' service if our military hopes to attract the best and the brightest Canadians."

He recommends, among other things, the development and implementation of a national reserve recruiting policy.

"The ad hoc system currently in place," Mr. Côté said in his report, "is neither efficient nor is it adequate to meet the needs of the Canadian Forces."

I definitely attest to a terrible process of becoming enrolled. Although I had my papers in to become a CIC officer (with the cadets) I waited and waited and waited. I had my applications and all my documentation in by October 2004 but it wasn't until July 2005 that I received a call for an interview. By that point I had already lost interest out of frustration with the wait and problems with the local cadet corps with which I was working. The corps with which I was working didn't understand the difficulties of being a student, and that as a unpaid staff member, school came before cadets. I had scholarships to maintain, and thankfully I didn't lose them that year. I really want to know, what takes so damn long for the application to be processed? A part of me still wants to be in the military, especially after my experience with working with these teenaged exchange students. I will comment on this after they leave.


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