How do we better the 'Army Reserve Offer'?

Discussion in 'Royal Naval Reserve (RNR)' started by Purple_twiglet, May 23, 2014.

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  1. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Okay guys, serious thread time on a subject that is worrying me a little. I've recently done some time on tri-service recruiting, seeing the recruitment offer from all three services and perhaps more importantly the reaction from the audience after the event.

    My honest impression is that the Army Reserve are light years ahead of where they were a few years ago. They have invested heavily in an outstanding presentation, its interactive with Ipads (not only look good but audience feedback was 'I had no idea the Army was so technical' and it went down very well). The presentation has lots of film footage of warry things going on - people on exercises, training and showing what they do. There is a lot of interaction of being able to ask questions anonymously via the Ipad during the presentation - and they get answered. The presentation team had four young Officers, most senior of whom was a Captain, and they came across with confidence, presence and were amazing ambassadors for the Army.

    They talked of the responsibility they had early on - e.g. 2nd Lieutenant talking about how they were responsible for 14 peoples admin and training from word go. They came across well and had a superbly convincing pitch. To cap it all off, they mentioned about the training package on offer (e.g. Sandhurst, how the Army invests in the commissioning course and the regular support they get) and then they dropped the little bombshell about the £5000 signing on bounty for officers. So my simple question is, how the heck can the RNR meet such a challenge?

    So what can the RNR do? This is something I've been mulling over because I think when we go up against the Army (and to a lesser extent the RAuxAF) for the same pool of recruits, we will struggle to compare in terms of the basic offer. The Army had a clear sense of 'this is what we do, this is what we can offer, if you want to drive tanks, fly in helicopters and go shooting then this will happen'. By contrast we don't have a similar strap line - ultimately we don't do the seagoing that people think they will do (how many possible people walked when I had to explain that they could possibly go to sea but that may only be early on, and actually not at all after a certain point for most people). Similarly, the current film (10 seconds of split screens) didn't work on the audiences I spoke to, who didn't feel it showed them what they could actually DO. By contrast what is the RNRs compelling offer that gives people something recognisably naval about their part time career?

    Similarly, the Army have presence in the form of wearing MTP - this may sound silly but MTP makes them distinguishably a soldier and you sit there and feel like you want to be part of it. Wearing 3's with epaulettes makes us look like police / security guards. Is it possible to say that Daily Working Rig is simply not appropriate for recruitment - it really needs to be Nos1s as otherwise people will in my experience not twig that we are the Royal Navy?

    Finally, why does the RNR not have a similar punchy presentation that can be deployed easily with good quality YOs to deliver it? We have excellent YOs coming through the pipeline, and many of them could give a convincing pitch to audiences. We may have good in unit presentations, but why is there not a national RNR Presentation Team to go out and spread the word?I am convinced the FR2020 target is entirely feasible if we want it to happen, but we need to think far more about how we are in direct competition with another organisation which has invested massively in putting together a very compelling offer. I mean it when I said that I watched that film footage of people doing amazing exercises, or all manner of cool stuff and part of me thought - 'the last RNR weekend I did involved sitting in an otherwise empty office building listening to people drip about how rubbish the RNR and RN was compared to XX years ago and we all went home early. I'd quite like to work hard on weekend exercises - where do I sign up for the AR?'

    I genuinely believe that the last 15 years have given us a wealth of people with the experience, presence and background to do an incredible presentation, and we can put across such a great image of how good the RNR can be. But right now, I do worry we are going to lose those people interested in the Reserves but who are ambivalent about their choice of service and who plump for the Army because it does feel like we are very much behind the curve compared to the other services when it comes to making a compelling offer. What is the USP that the RNR can offer to equal the Army one - what counter facts can be offered against the Army model of early and substantial responsibility, serious time and resource investment and a compelling narrative of a genuine role at the heart of the Army plans. If someone said 'The Army pays me £5000 to join as an Officer, what does the RNR offer me' I am a bit stumped trying to come up with something that can top that!

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited: May 24, 2014
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  2. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    The Maritme Reserves have a significant disadvantage as the RMR still don't recruit DE Officers & even those RMR Other Ranks that become officers are never going to be troop commanders. The RNR has only very recently encouraged DE officers. Only a couple of years ago, potential officers had no option other than to join as ratings.

    Under FR2020 there were millions of pounds allocated to achieve the targets set. I've seen suggestions ranging from joining bounties to dedicated recruiters being employed.

    What has happened? Nothing whatsoever. All that has happened is all the suggestions put forward have been rejected and the money unspent.
  3. If I was joining now, I'd be awfully, awfully tempted by the AR over the RNR. So tempted, in fact, that I think I probably would have gone AR.

    I would have to have really, really wanted to do something in the RNR that the AR couldn't offer me (or that the RNR did significantly better) to go RNR over AR, and I don't know what that is. Chuck on top of that a five grand bounty, which at the time I was joining the RNR (even allowing for inflation) was the best part of a year's living expenses for me, and my retroactive decision becomes clear.

    Presumably, this means that people like me (who, at risk of making myself out to be the new Nelson, are probably what the RNR wants to recruit - I've been in over a decade, met full training requirement every year, been mobilised, expect to be mobilised again etc etc; so long as the RNR doesn't alienate me too much, they can rely on mobilising me a couple of times a decade for the rest of my life) are going AR over RNR as I type.
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  4. At the risk of sounding like "Uncle Albert"; when I left in 1993 there was still a Royal Fleet Reserve requirement for ratings (although never an equivalent for us officers). To my mind, it seemed illogical that having spent a huge sum on our training, to effectively discard that experience and rely upon us voluntarily joining the RNR was questionable and did not represent value for money.

    Unfortunately, no sooner had the then Tory government started to carve up the regular service, it turned upon the RNR and removed its traditional sea-going role (MCM 10 was exclusively manned by reservists) and, apart from List 1 (Merchant Navy) and List 5 (ex-Aircrew) reduced the RNR to a body essentially supporting HQ operations and port defence, the claim being that the cost of RNR personnel maintaining their hours in terms of watch-keeping, sea-time, etc was not cost effective.

    I believe that there needs to be a rethink here; we need direct entry reservists, but equally, we need to be able to retain the talent pool of those people leaving the service; if only because in the event of a real crisis blowing up, these would be the people you could immediately put into front line (maritime) roles.

    So I would support a model of bringing those service leavers into the fold, using them the inject a new purpose into the RNR's mission and if they are willing, put them into dry billets to help preserve the sea-shore ratios for their permanent counterparts.

    Then use their skills and knowledge to train up the direct entry lists to allow the re-introduction of the seagoing element of the service, which is what the attraction of the RNR was for many.
    Last edited: May 24, 2014
  5. I understand that a significant increase in the number of service leavers joining the RNR was very much part of the plan. I've not noticed an increase in the number of ex-regulars in the RNR, but it's the kind of thing that would be easy to miss. Perhaps someone with the numbers could tell us how that's going.

    I wonder how many ex-matelots are joining the AR :)
  6. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Concur on the rig.

    People know what a matelot should look like, they don't expect to see them dressed like an Arriva bus driver.
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  7. I never asked about ones, but when I'd manned the stand, I recall being told negative headgear because we want to look approachable. With no comment on it being a good idea or not, maybe there's a similar thought regarding threes over ones.
  8. I think a lot of the problem is the lack of branch information - which perpetuates myths (you don't get sea time) and leads to ill informed decisions which sees people join the wrong branch, fail to make bounty and then leave.

    There's no proper branch recruitment process for either officer or rating, leaving most to join whichever branch is popular/has the good personnel in your unit. That's leaving aside any branching strategy like the concept of every AB2 initially joining Sea(Res) to be a sailor - does MTO need JRs or can it cross train senior rates? That would certainly make the recruitment of JRs easier - join the Navy, go to sea and then specialise if you want to.

    For officers there is a very specific training pipeline (think of it what you will) which is easy to sell. One year of military officer training that frankly might as well become tri-service for bits of it, and a year of naval officer training. The "sell" should be easy, the problem as far as I see it is consistency. It's possible to sell DE officer as:

    A year of military training, leadership stuff (makes your civvy employer happy), AT, loads of phys
    A year of naval training, a day or two with a ship alongside, 2+ weeks at sea with a run ashore somewhere interesting and some sexy stuff on the programme.
    A range of branch options, seagoing if you want it, foreign training opportunities,
    The international YO conferences, exchange opportunities, management development, organising and leading AT weekends, battlefield tours, military skills competitions - basically as many MTDs as you can cope with

    The problem is that you can have that or dip out and through no fault of your own spend your life getting pinged for stuff in unit, join (out of ignorance) a branch that will never see a ship and spend years as a Sub Lt because you can't get on the exercise that qualified you for promotion.

    We can't currently beat the AR in cash offer terms. But things like regular foreign training or deployments (Cyprus, Gibraltar, Bahrain), getting treated far better as a rating, whilst still being a vaguely military force unlike the crabs should make a decent enough sell.
    The problem I have when recruiting is I can't promise much to a PNR, they stand as much chance of getting the above as getting dicked with AB(Logs) and driving a truck around north Scotland for the rest of their (short) career.
  9. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Spot on. If the RNR employed full time, dedicated recruiters, the individual would be far better informed than being processed by a generic AFCO Careers Adviser.

    From an AFCO perspective we process RNR Ratings as a branch of the RN, the training pipeline is 5 or more years, longer than any branch in the regular service. If someone wants to be UWFP or CIS in the RNR, the AFCO just process them for entry & leave that to the RNR to sort out. If someone wants to join the RN as a Diver or CIS, the AFCO sorts it out from the outset and can tell the individual exactly what their career path will follow. RNR Officers are just a different branch of Officer as far as an AFCO is concerned.

    The RNR need dedicated, qualified full time careers advisers to select and advise but they won't pay for them, despite having a big, fcuk-off bucket of money to recruit and retain. Instead they do it on the cheap and look very foolish because of it.
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  10. As for ex matelots joining the RNR, they leave the RN have been trained for years in their branch. Then join the RNR and have to join a completely different branch. For example there are no stokers In the RNR but it is a branch that has many gapped billets.

    I joined the RNR as a MSA after I left the RN and enjoyed the challenge of something new, but then they scrapped the branch and said I could do upper deck sentry instead so I left.
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  11. Word on the street is that an engineering branch is making a come back for that exact reason.

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Navy Net - Rum Ration mobile app
  12. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    "Word on the street is that an engineering branch is making a come back for that exact reason"

    If true,a remarkably sensible idea, and one that could go a long way to in assisting to solve the manpower crisis - particularly if there is flexibility for FTRS or deployments to support deploying vessels (e.g. join RNR, do a few months on a trip, come home do contracting, go away again). Keep the engineers in the Naval Service at all costs.
  13. That is seemingly planned with the change in TOR's next year(ish). All this is gossip as far as i know but was gossip from Commanders and Captains rather than AB2's in the mess.
  14. It would be exactly the right approach for the modern contractor: couldn't agree more. A bit late for me though, but it would keep people's skills up-to-date and provide a genuine framework upon which to revitalise the RNR.
  15. Trainer

    Trainer War Hero Book Reviewer

    Fair one. However, I've just come back with my merry band of volunteers from 4 days solid recruiting at a major public event somewhere on the South Coast. Me, the SRs and the ABs in 3s, the INT in 4s, which is all they have. I've had 1s on for prestigious short term gigs, but the prospect of doing 4 days in a sand strewn, chip fat splattered dress uniform whilst trying to stop the marquee moving to Guernsey in a Force 10 does not excite me. I need something I can throw into the washer when I get home. Some people work out we're Royal Naval Reserve = it says so in 6 foot high letters on the side of our tent. The comment about using YOs is a salient one, and is exactly why I like to take take INT or ABs: they're far closer to the experience than me. Who'd want to listen to a superannuated, cynical old fart like me, outside of technical questions about branch structures.The number of times I've had people ask me where the toilets are, report shoplifters or get me to help them find the 1347 to Waterloo. They see the unform as a symbol of trust in an otherwise chaotic world. Like the lost child on Sunday who made a bee-line for our PO.We will never outspend the Army. In order to do this we have to fight cleverer and cheaper to get the warm bodies: even the Police are taking on Specials at the moment.People need local. easy access: and that went when many units closed down.
    Last edited: May 27, 2014
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  16. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Fully agree, wearing 1's all day is no fun at all, but if manpower is available, it's certainly handy to rotate the team so that at least one person is recognisable as a matelot at any given point.

    One of the biggest bunch of cowboys with an identity crisis at PR events are Divers who wear a mix of desert camouflage, MTP, seamans jerseys, trackie tops, RayBans, chunky watches and nondescript woolly hats. I've even see some wearing WW2 navy-blue battle-dress tops, ffs. So much for a corporate image, then again resembling a bus driver doesn't do much for recruiting and "brand identity" either.
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  17. If they also smelt of diesel they weren't divers but old-school sun-dodgers!
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  18. I would suggest that step 1 would be to turn up to events.
    Was at an event with my civi hat on the other day

    Army + Army Reserves
    Quad bikes, blokes back off ops, kit to try on (helmet, body armour, full kit bag). Photos. Leaflets, booklets, camo netting, rifles, etc...

    RAF (no reserves)
    Smart stand, pull up banners, pictures, leaflets/booklets, free pens, stickers.

    Apparently didn't turn up.

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  19. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Interesting & fully agreed.

    Their "Lordships", in their infinite wisdom, have cut the recruiting field force by 25% (or more in some areas - my AFCO had 9 recruiting staff last year and now has 5, for example) and because of it we are seeing significant diminishing returns because AFCO staff cannot cover all outreach events because they are stuck processing those that have applied.

    It's a self-fulfilling end-game because if we don't get out there to raise the profile, we don't get potential recruits through the door, so whilst we cope with those who apply we are impotent with regard raising the profile.

    Interesting to hear the RAF were out in force as they tend to only attend those events they see as directly useful to the recruiting effort - they don't tend to bother with "RAF in the public eye" events if they don't produce the goods.
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  20. This was a career event.
    Didn't chat much with the RAF but Army seemed to have a good catch of names, RAF had best located stand by the entrance and also seemed to be having a good day.

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