Social media addicts, gym junkies and binge drinkers are all being targeted in the Army’s latest recruitment drive.Posters and adverts in the campaign claim members of the armed forces enjoy a “lasting confidence” as opposed to the short-lived satisfaction gleaned from fast fashion and Instagram likes.The appeal is underpinned by research claiming young people believe they are held back by a lack of self-confidence.The size of Britain’s armed forces fell for a ninth consecutive year last year.The appeal is the latest in a series, launched in January each year.Two images featured in the campaign are collages of muscular arms and torsos alongside the tagline: “Confidence can be built for a summertime or it can last a lifetime.”Similar messages criticising short-term confidence boosts are conveyed in collages of pint glasses, spray tans, new trainers, make-up and emojis.
Colonel Nick MacKenzie, the Army’s head of recruitment, said the campaign builds on the success of last year’s drive for sign-ups.The 2019 appeal raised eyebrows as it targeted “snowflakes”, “millennials” and “selfie addicts” by evoking Lord Kitchener’s “your country needs you” message from World War One.13,520 people joined the regular armed forces in the 12 months to August 2019 – an increase of 1,593 compared to the previous year. But 14,880 people also left, up from 14,860 in 2018.
There’s been scathing criticism of the Army’s recruitment process from MPs and the press ever since it signed a contract with the private contractor Capita in 2012.But both the Army and Capita now believe they’ve dramatically improved the system.Changes include speeding up application times, a less rigid approach to any applicants with minor ailments such as asthma and eczema, and new “soldier development” courses to help those who may struggle to meet the standard entry requirements for fitness and literacy.Last year’s recruitment campaign saw a record number of applications – proof, say the Army and Capita, that the situation is improving.But still only about 10% of those applying make it through to basic training.The bottom line is that numbers are still falling, with the regular Army now more than 8,000 troops below its target strength.And the problem is as much about retention, with the MoD’s continuous attitudes surveys showing worrying levels of dissatisfaction and frustration with service life.
On Thursday, Colonel MacKenzie said: “I am delighted that so many people have decided to join the Army this year, which is a result of our successful advertising campaign and the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the recruiting process.”
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Media captionArmy recruiting ‘snowflakes’: What do people think?The appeal is in part based on research from 2018 by The Prince’s Trust which found that 54% of 16 to 25-year-olds believe a lack of self-confidence holds them back.Colonel MacKenzie said: “With the 2020 campaign we want to highlight that a career in the Army not only provides exciting opportunities, challenges and adventure but it also gives you a lasting confidence that is hard to find in any other profession.”