Did you know that in 2016 the third biggest job recruiter in France after Carrefour (supermarkets) and McDonalds (fast food) will be the defence ministry? Twenty-six thousand youngsters will join the ministry “not only as active soldiers but also reservists (…) or civilian personnel,” explained Anne-Sophie Avé, director of human resources at the ministry of defence (DHR-MD), on 30 March at a hearing by the French National Assembly’s committee for national defence and the armed forces.
Where other neighbouring countries, notably Great Britain, are finding it difficult to recruit for the armed forces, the French can still choose their recruits with two ‘useful’ candidates for every person finally recruited, she said.
These 26,000 new recruits will be added to the 10,000 people whose jobs should have been axed between 2017-2019 but who will be redeployed to operational units and their support teams, in cyberdefence and in intelligence.
This “stabilisation manoeuvre,” Avé said, “will translate into more than 5,000 jobs for the operational forces; more than 1,000 for intelligence and cyberdefence; more than 1,500 to provide support for these extra personnel, created notably in the armed forces‘ quartermaster and health services, and the Defence infrastructure service.”
Her announcement that “this manoeuvre will also aim to preserve support for our forces in the new operational context (….) by cancelling some of the job cuts that had been planned (…) and maintaining or recruiting 1,400 State workers,” drew quite a few comments from the committee members. “We need to maintain significant recruitment of State workers – about 400 a year – in order to preserve the critical skills that the ministry really needs,” she told them, adding that the Defence ministry “is fighting to preserve these special status jobs where they exist and have proven their power of attraction: such as the specific status of State workers.” This status is important, she said “above all in certain types of jobs and for those who have skills that are rare or short-handed and where the Defence ministry is in competition with the private sector in fields such as information systems, cyberdefence, maintenance in the aeronautical sector, auditing or finances.”
She congratulated the army’s recruitment team which “has shown incredible efficiency (…) in recruiting by redeploying staff to the information and recruitment centres of the armed forces [known by their French acronym CIRFA] and making an enormous effort to ensure that applications are dealt with, analysed and then putting candidates through the aptitude tests.” But, she added, the “conditions for undertaking these recruitments remain complex” because between 2017-19 the armed forces will have to recruit 6,800 rank and file and non-commissioned officers as well as at least 700 commissioned officers and 400 senior civil servants more than those planned for in the military programme law “who are vital for the smooth running of specialised services and high technology units in the armament, cyberdefence, intelligence, conception of land, sea and air operation sectors.”