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If there was any doubt as to the importance of effective recruiters and recruitment processes to the many and varied public sector employers it’s been made plain by recent moves in both Australia and across the Pacific.

The Federal Government, this week, announced the funding of 5000 scholarships to teaching students who begin studying in 2024. The campaign is specifically targeting high-achieving school-leavers, mid-career professionals, First Nations people, those from remote or regional Australia, students living with disabilities, and those with English as a second language.

As part of the $160 million investment, undergraduate students can receive $40,000 over four years, while postgraduates could receive up $20,000 over two years.

There’s a catch, of course.

Scholarship recipients must commit to teaching in government-run schools or early learning settings for at least four years if they are an undergraduate student, and at least two years for postgraduates. Teaching students who complete their placements in remote communities could receive an additional $2000.

This comes as the government announced its “Be That Teacher” $10 million advertising campaign last week, running for six months, that focuses on the impact teachers can have on students, in order to encourage more people to join the profession.

The National Catholic Education Commission immediately complained about the exclusive tying of scholarship holders to the government school sector with NCEC executive director Jacinta Collins bemoaning the program “will skew recruitment of teachers to public schools when there is need across Catholic and other non-government schools”.

In 2022 the Victorian Department of Health announced a funding package to support the recruitment and training of 17,000 nurses and midwives to the health system in 2023 and 2024.

Specifically, the government promised

  • Future nurses and midwives undertaking an undergraduate degree in nursing and midwifery will study for free, providing they join a public health service upon completion and stay for two years.
  • Former nurses and midwives will be able to update their qualifications for free to re-enter to workforce.
  • Current enrolled nurses will be able to become registered nurses for free.

The move was not universally regarded as a one to make much of a difference to recruitment with ANU’s Professor Andrew Norton saying the structure of the assistance package was unlikely “to have much impact on the numbers of students who start nursing courses.”

Teaching is the area that politicians know is a potential flashpoint for parent, and therefore voter, discontent with the government’s own data showing demand for secondary teachers will exceed the supply of new graduates by 4,100 by 2025.

Even more troubling is the departure rate from the profession with 20 per cent of new teachers leaving teaching with their first five years in the classroom, citing “unsustainable workloads” as the number one reason.

The Northern Territory government is currently aggressively targetting experienced New Zealand prison guards by offering relocation packages of between $25,000 and $35,000, on top of a total annual remuneration package of $101,000 and a $5000 annual retention bonus, to fill vacancies at the Alice Springs correctional facility.

In New South Wales, trainee police officers will be paid to study, beginning next year, as part of a push to fix chronic shortages of recruits. Other police jurisdictions in Australia already pay trainee officers.

Premier Chris Minns said the police force was stretched and overworked, and that would not be fixed without recruiting and retaining more officers.

Student police officers will be paid while completing a 16-week course at the Goulburn Police Academy from March. They will receive a total salary of about $30,984, which is about $1360 per week plus superannuation, and about $380 in award-based allowances.

NSW Police has 1500 vacancies and the incentive is expected to help bolster the pipeline of applicants for a career in policing.

In the United States military recruitment is in the midst of a crisis with a news report on Monday stating the U.S. Army is pushing non-commissioned officers into its recruiting school after graduating only 1,336 recruiters this year, when the school is capable of training 2,886 students.

As the number of soldiers responsible for getting more Americans to enlist drops dramatically, the Army is struggling to bring in recruits, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. It was short 10,000 soldiers on a target of 65,000 new troops over the most recent fiscal year. The previous year saw only 45,000 new recruits against a target of 60,000.

Now, the U.S. Army wants to grow its recruiting school by involuntarily assigning soldiers to recruiting roles and introducing significant and unprecedented incentives to attract volunteers.

The incentives range from hard cash ($5,000 bonus to those who attend the recruiting school by February) to more controversial inducements such as fast-track promotions such as sergeants being automatically promoted to staff sergeant upon graduating recruiting school regardless of qualifications, with time-in-grade requirements being waived. Staff sergeants then have the opportunity to be promoted to sergeant first class after getting 24 applicants into basic training within one year

The desperation underpinning the approach of many military recruiters in the U.S. is such that YouTube videos with titles like 8 LIES Military Recruiters Tell New Recruits ( Don’t Fall for it! ) generate six-figure views and even serving personnel write articles stating army recruiters “are the biggest, most dangerous liars on the face of the earth.”

Recruiters might be concerned about their short-term future with the tech winter, the consulting autumn, and the various bearish economic rumblings however the long-term prospects have never been less in doubt – as enhanced recruitment incentives from various government employers amply prove.

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