Recruiting and Retention in the Canadian Military


The Canadian Armed Forces have rather significant tasks, objectives, and responsibilities, including protecting the country, its citizens, and their interests. Talented and determined people are simultaneously the product and the workers of the military forces, and it is required that there are no issues related to the army members. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the retention and recruiting in the Canadian military. Though it has been well-known for two decades, it is still impossible for the authorities to find a working solution and increase the recruiting and retention rates. Talented soldiers are attracted by private military companies that can offer greater salaries and more comfortable conditions, which reduces the number of people staying in the army after the end of their service. Therefore, it is required to explore the causes of the issues and offer some practical steps.

Research Question

It is hard to disagree that military forces are considered one of the most necessary, powerful, and important structures in any country. Therefore, the Canadian Armed Forces (the CAF) are an integral part of the country that plays an extremely vital role in defending the interests of Canada both abroad and at home. In case of an unforeseen emergency like a natural or man-made disaster or belligerent aggression, the Canadian army is the country’s last resort. It is fair to notice that the CAF is expected to be able to provide a quick, appropriate, and professional reaction to any hazard, and this ability requires many resources and a correct training process. Apart from the necessity of providing the army with various particularities, it is essential to note that people are both the product and the employees of this organization. As stated by Bériault (2021), they are at the core of everything the CAF does to deliver on its mandate” (p. 3). Therefore, one of the primary responsibilities of the Canadian Armed Forces is to maintain a healthy workforce.

It is vital to mention that numerous factors affect the success of the CAF and its workforce. The main ones are recruitment, training, and retention. Recruitment is a process of enlisting new persons in the military, while retention is the personnel’s voluntary desire to remain in the army after the end of their obligated term of service. Bériault (2021) notices that both recruitment and retention have been “an issue in the CAF for a significant period of time and has been an area of study for the Auditor General” (p. 4). There is a vast number of causes for the appearance of the issues and the current inability of the authorities to solve them. Therefore, the research question is the following: what are the main problems with recruitment and retention that the CAD faces, and what are the ways to solve them? The method for answering the research question is secondary data analysis. The paper is structured into the following sections: organizational mapping, where a visual representation of the issue is presented; analysis, where essential information that supports the argument is discussed; and conclusion, where a course of action is advised.

Organizational Mapping

The purpose of this section is to talk about the stakeholders, the interrelations, and the dynamics of the problem under discussion. To begin with, there are many groups of people interested in finding a proper and effective solution to the issues with recruitment and retention in the Canadian military. First, it is beneficial for ordinary people since the Canadian Armed Forces protect their lives, properties, and interests. Further, it is vital for the army workforce itself because the more qualified and professional members they have, the less pressure there is on each of them. It is evident that it is much easier to achieve a purpose and eliminate the posing danger if there are many trained and determined soldiers. Finally, non-government entities, as well as the local and national government agencies, are the stakeholders in the situation of the Canadian army.

It is essential to mention that the problems with recruitment and retention are interrelated. If the Canadian army does not manage to find talented, determined, and skillful applicants, the chances that these people will want to remain in the army later are greatly reduced (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019). At the same time, if there is a lack of soldiers who desire to stay after the end of their obligated term of service, it is unlikely that many young men and women would like to join the forces in the first place. As for the dynamics of the problem, it is possible to state that the mentioned problems have been worrying the army authorities for more than two decades. There were several attempts to address the issue and increase the rates of successful recruitment and retention, but little has changed (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019). Therefore, there is still a lack of workforce in the Canadian military, and new policy initiatives are required to improve the situation.


To begin with, it is essential to describe the situation in more detail. The issues appear to be much deeper in their essence than one may think, and exploring them may allow professionals to come up with a specific and working action plan. Several years earlier, it was easier for the military to solve the problems with recruitment and retention (Berthiaume, 2021). Unfortunately, the beginning of the global pandemic made it much more challenging to eliminate the problems and even contributed to them. As noticed by Berthiaume (2021), “the military was able to provide basic training to only about a quarter the expected number of new hires since March as COVID-19 forced recruiting centers and training camps to close or otherwise curtail their operations” (para. 6). Currently, it is impossible to predict all the consequences that the Canadian military will face because of this fact, but it is certain that the rates of recruiting and retention will drop further.

However, not everyone realizes that the process of training is extremely important for CAF soldiers. As stated by researchers, “the main reason that recruiting and retention of personnel has increased in importance is the issue of cost – training of personnel is both expensive and lengthy” (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019, para. 15). Unfortunately, some individuals choose to leave the CAF after much time and money are spent on their training process, and it is a rather common practice for people. Since it is impossible for the Canadian military to “recruit qualified, experienced military pilots from the civilian aviation market,” the only way for them is to recruit and train new people (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019, para. 16). Therefore, there is a strong connection between the recruiting, proper training, and retention of military personnel, and it is required to create an effective systematic approach to retention.

Further, it is required to list some additional causes of the issues mentioned above. To begin with, Bériault (2021) notices that there is still no personnel that is responsible for the active management of recruitment and retention issues. It is also well-known that there is a global war for talent. Organizations in all spheres try to attract the most talented, determined, and promising employees, and private companies usually win (Bériault, 2021). They have more resources to offer, while governmental organizations can only allocate the resources provided to them. This also refers to the army: private military companies offer the CAF members greater salaries, and since the cost of living is increasing, most soldiers decide not to remain in the Canadian Armed Forces (Bériault, 2021). Consequently, the authorities should pay specific attention to this factor and think of some proper ways to address it.

In order to see a clearer picture, it is effective to learn people’s opinions. It is rather helpful that “the Royal Air Force (RAF) Defense Review conducted attitude and occupational surveys” that may also apply to the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019, para. 18). The surveys provide professionals with some reasons why personnel may choose to leave or stay in the service. The following are the factors that may impact one’s decision to remain in the CAF:

  • leadership, responsibility, and challenging tasks;
  • long term contract of employment;
  • financial reasons (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019).

At the same time, for some employees, the following factors that seem to be disadvantages of staying in the CAF are more significant:

  • reasons related to family (fear of long separation);
  • lack of financial stability;
  • changes to service duties, life, or terms;
  • promotion system (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019).

Consequently, these surveys may be very helpful for the military authorities, and strengthening the factors that attract employees, as well as eliminating the disadvantages, may be the key to increasing the rates of recruiting and retention in the Canadian military.


To draw a conclusion, one may say that there is a severe necessity to improve the situation that the Canadian Armed Forces face and make sure that there is no lack of workforce. The reasons mentioned in the research paper prove that it is impossible to overestimate the power and effectiveness of the army. However, without proper strategies and recommendations, it is challenging, if not impossible, for the Canadian military to solve the issues it has been facing for two decades. Therefore, a specific plan of action that is aimed at improving the circumstances is proposed in this section.

First, it is recommended that the authorities reform the recruiting process and address the lack of training venue capacity. Second, researchers notice that “the hours of operation of most Recruiting Centres are 0900 – 1600 hours Monday to Friday” “may not be convenient for prospective applicants,” it should be effective to review the working hours and attract more applicants (Canadian Armed Forces, 2019). Third, it was noticed earlier in the paper that currently, there is no personnel that would actively manage the recruitment and retention issues. Therefore, creating “a managing body having the responsibility and resources to improve the retention situation” seems to be an effective step (Bériault, 2021). Finally, developing a clear Employer Value Proposition may prove to the talented workers why they should prefer the Canadian Armed Forces as their employer and allow the latter to win the competition and win the war for talent. Overall, the steps mentioned above are rather promising and may change the situation for the better in the shortest time possible.


Bériault, K. A. (2021). Retention in the Canadian armed forces: A complex problem that requires active and continued management [PDF document]. Web.

Canadian Armed Forces. (2019). Recruiting and retention in the Canadian armed forces. The Royal United Services Institute of Nova Scotia. Web.

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1. DemoEssays. "Recruiting and Retention in the Canadian Military." December 22, 2022.


DemoEssays. "Recruiting and Retention in the Canadian Military." December 22, 2022.