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Initiatives launched to retain and increase RCAF personnel experience levels

dapaterson

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To be clear, the RCAF does not have a pilot recruiting issue, there are tons of applicants. Retention is the problem.

The RCAF also has training capacity and absorption issues. (This applies equally to ACSO and AESOps as well).

Leaving people festering on the BTL for a half decade costs the CAF money, breeds dissatisfaction, and reduces the amount of post-OFP time the CAF gets out of a pilot. Recent initiatives removing pilots from some staff positions should help retention if it means more time actually flying.
 

lenaitch

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Apparently about 85% of Australia's population is within 50km of the coast, which nicely aligns with their military's primary national security mandate.
 

SupersonicMax

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Apparently about 85% of Australia's population is within 50km of the coast, which nicely aligns with their military's primary national security mandate.
How does Australia's East Coast relate to their security mandate? Their threat comes mostly from the North, not the East.
 

TCM621

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I wonder if it was "less of an issue" because society was normalized to the woman being a housewife. Now, it's normalized for both adults to have careers, and the military (not just CAF - I've heard the same issues from friends in multiple militaries) posting cycle is at odds with current society.

I think this issue of postings/locations/one-person-in-the-family careers is what will keep us from recruiting and keeping the people we want. There will have to be some drastic changes to the CAF as we see it now if we want to keep up retention, and with that there might have to be some serious breaking of cultural "rice bowls".

Part of it is already happening now with Covid, when some folks in the NCR realized they get as much (if not more) work done while working from home. RCafe has had conversations about "postings" where depending on your trade, you may never physically get posted but you progress from unit to unit just like a normal military career. Does it matter where you are if you're an admin trade and you have the proper equipment to WFH?

Another one is the issue of "east coast, west coast" squadrons. Aside from SAR and fighters, why do we need 2 locations for each aircraft type? Going back to the Australian example (because big country, similar proportion of members in uniform, etc), each airframe has one location, except for Classic Hornets (they don't do SAR). Even then, Classic Hornet squadrons have 2 locations, and you're at 1 of them (the one close to Sydney) most of your career because the school and 2 of their squadrons are there. Their "Cold Lake" squadron is usually one posting. The RAN Maritime Helicopter fleet is all located 2h from Sydney, their east coast base. West coast (Perth) ships sailing and need a helicopter? They fly it across Australia to join the ship when needed. All of this means that with few exceptions, a member and their family could potentially never get physically posted unless it's to an HQ that's not associated with their Wing. Add that to most of their bases being within commuting distance to their major cities, and the strain can be a lot less. Now granted, because of this, the members will be gone quite a bit more because a border patrol mission would mean TD-ing to Darwin or wherever, then doing their missions, then going back to home base.

As others have said, recruiting isn't the problem because there are tons of 18 year olds who want to do the cool stuff. The problem is keeping them in when they're 30, experienced, have a family, and realize that Cold Lake or Shilo isn't helping their spouse's career (if they had one to start with). Saying "well we'll just replace with other 18 year olds" doesn't work when the experienced people are the ones leaving. As the saying goes, "how long does it take to train a 10-year experienced employee? 10 years."

Whew, that became a bit of a rant.
The biggest issue with all these issues is that the needs of the member isn't the same as the needs of the service. If the goal is to keep more people local, they will keep people local even if they don't want to stay. I wanted to get posted every 3 or 4 years but I have had 3 physical postings. Back when we had more desirable postings moving was an adventure. I know so many people who lived in Germany as kids and they all look back on there time there as a positive experience. I mean how many people turn down OUTCAN postings?

Personally leaving somewhere I love is bad but staying somewhere I hate is worse. It's one of reasons so many people in the airforce have the "Cold Lake Stare" and they want everyone else to have to suffer through 15 years there like they did. The Pilots are there because they get to fly fighter jets while everyone else just does basically they same job they would do in Comox, Edmonton, Winnipeg or Greenwood. The pilots get the big money and the guy who drives the fuel bowser or fixes the landing gear has been maxed out on Cpl incentives for the last 5 years and the MCpl gets a 40 dollar a month raise and then never sees another one. If you told a tech that they would spend 5 years in Cold Lake then they were guaranteed a different posting they wouldn't complain as much.
 

dimsum

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I mean how many people turn down OUTCAN postings?
Completely anecdotally, last year a few friends turned them down because those locations were riddled by Covid. I understand that it's not the norm, but some people do turn them down. Another instance would be for family/schooling reasons. I would like to see an official report at some point of how many qualified/screened candidates they go through per location though.

I can't really speak to Cold Lake because my trade has no postings there. Longest I've been there was 3 weeks for an exercise, but I agree - I can't see myself living there. Hence, the idea of having the base closer to Edmonton and TD-ing up to the CLAWR for "bomb camp" or whatever. There can be a caretaker crew up there of min staff (again, like Australia) to keep the lights running.
 

Halifax Tar

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The whole postings thing its a struggle PAN CAF. The issue is with the current way we promote, manage positions and careers we often need to post people in order to promote them. Log trades are a good example of this but I would imagine many trades, including Pilot, are similar. Promoted to Maj and your position is at ADM(XXX) in Ottawa; as an example.

Im not sure how we get around this.
 

dimsum

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Im not sure how we get around this.
I currently work at the NCR. I've been in the office physically about 4 times since I got posted in last APS. I know folks who, on paper, are posted to Ottawa but in reality are working remotely from their family location. A friend of mine actually had a cubicle in another base but was in ADM for 2 months until they could move to Ottawa.

All that to say that this past year has shown that we could actually "post" people administratively but not move them in these cases. So if you're posted to a staff position, you could theoretically work from home (or in a desk somewhere in your base location, given proper DWAN connection and/or access to CSNI). This will change the culture of work - again, one of those "rice bowls" we should be looking at shattering.
 

mariomike

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I can't really speak to Cold Lake because my trade has no postings there. Longest I've been there was 3 weeks for an exercise, but I agree - I can't see myself living there.
My sister likes it so much she retired there.
 

dimsum

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My sister likes it so much she retired there.
I know people who love it there too.

Even in this thread, there are folks who don't like Comox (traditionally considered a desirable location, housing costs notwithstanding). There were folks I knew who couldn't wait to get posted back to Greenwood.

It happens.
 

kev994

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I currently work at the NCR. I've been in the office physically about 4 times since I got posted in last APS. I know folks who, on paper, are posted to Ottawa but in reality are working remotely from their family location. A friend of mine actually had a cubicle in another base but was in ADM for 2 months until they could move to Ottawa.

All that to say that this past year has shown that we could actually "post" people administratively but not move them in these cases. So if you're posted to a staff position, you could theoretically work from home (or in a desk somewhere in your base location, given proper DWAN connection and/or access to CSNI). This will change the culture of work - again, one of those "rice bowls" we should be looking at shattering.
I know of a position in Ottawa that pilots kept releasing when they were posted there, the 3rd guy in a year posted to the position they allowed to work remotely from Comox.
 

dimsum

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I know of a position in Ottawa that pilots kept releasing when they were posted there, the 3rd guy in a year posted to the position they allowed to work remotely from Comox.
Exactly. If it's a staff position and doesn't require face-to-face meetings (which again, this past year has proven it generally does not), then why not? The only weirdness would be time zone differences.
 

lenaitch

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How does Australia's East Coast relate to their security mandate? Their threat comes mostly from the North, not the East.

I meant external in general, as compared to our two major population regions, which are inland.
 

daftandbarmy

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I know of a position in Ottawa that pilots kept releasing when they were posted there, the 3rd guy in a year posted to the position they allowed to work remotely from Comox.

Cool... I didn't know, until now, that the RCAF had an equivalent to the 'Forlorn Hope' :)
 

Loachman

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As others have said, recruiting isn't the problem because there are tons of 18 year olds who want to do the cool stuff. The problem is keeping them in when they're 30, experienced, have a family, and realize that Cold Lake or Shilo isn't helping their spouse's career (if they had one to start with). Saying "well we'll just replace with other 18 year olds" doesn't work when the experienced people are the ones leaving.

Sort out the delay and bottleneck problems in the recruiting process.

Sort out the delay and bottleneck problems in the training process.

Eliminate four years of wasted time at RMC.

I joined the Regular Force under OCTP (Officer Candidate Training Plan) in 1978. Recruiting, less a two-month delay to attain Canadian citizenship (normally four months back then, but they pushed it through for me in two as joining the CF seemed to be a much Bigger Deal back then) took a couple of months, with the bulk of the time spent waiting for aircrew eye exams (they botched my first two, and the doctor misinterpreted the third).

I first walked into the Recruiting Centre in London around late August or early September 1977. I did Aircrew Selection in February 1978. I was in Chilliwack for Basic Officer Training on 5 March 1978 and was finished in early June. Due to a fatal Snowbird crash, all flying training courses were delayed and my Primary Flying Training did not start until January 1979 instead of late July or early August 1978 as scheduled. Gaps between courses were generally only weeks long, just enough to ensure that bad weather delays did not cause overlaps, not two-plus years.

We did a much better job in the 1970s and early 1980s than we do now, with all of the labour-saving computers and fancy simulators and crap.

The Reserve Pilot Training Programme, sadly cancelled around 1994/95, pushed guys off of the street through the whole Regular Force flying training programme in two years, from arrival at Chilliwack to returning from Portage with wings. Each of the two Air Reserve Wings (in St-Hubert and Downsview) put two pairs through per year. One is now a Squadron CO.

Get this done quickly and efficiently, and people will get at least two flying tours in before the first symptoms of settledownitis even begin to show up.

As the saying goes, "how long does it take to train a 10-year experienced employee? 10 years."

But only around twenty years in the Modern Canadian Armed Forces.

Progress.

You kids now don't know how good you have it.
 

Eye In The Sky

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The RCAF also has training capacity and absorption issues. (This applies equally to ACSO and AESOps as well).

I think there's a directed recruiting effort on for Flight Attendants at this point as well?

It's well and good to focus compensation satisfiers at (1) Pilot and (2) SAR Techs now and say "because they are the most critical" but, many fleets can't even rotate with just those trades onboard.

Ask anyone at an operational (aka Pri C) squadron how they feel about life and operational units being Pri C. (n)
 
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Quirky

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The biggest issue with all these issues is that the needs of the member isn't the same as the needs of the service.If you told a tech that they would spend 5 years in Cold Lake then they were guaranteed a different posting they wouldn't complain as much.
The rcaf won’t get their money’s worth after only 5 years. It’s not nearly enough time to get a tech proficient enough on the CF-18. There is a similar program however with 431 Sqn, I can’t remember the CANAIRGEN number. After 4-5 years with the snowbirds a technician is eligible for a posting to fleet or geographical location of their choice. Similar program could work in cold lake but it would need to be 8-10 years with a gun squadron.
 

SupersonicMax

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but, many fleets can't even rotate with just those trades onboard.
While in our SOPs, there are tasks for other trades in the start, taxi and takeoff phase, pretty much every aircraft in our inventory could takeoff with pilots alone. I have flown the P-3 and Seahawk with just pilots. Granted, from a systems point of view, nothing was happening, flying the aircraft was possible.
 

Eye In The Sky

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The rcaf won’t get their money’s worth after only 5 years. It’s not nearly enough time to get a tech proficient enough on the CF-18

I'm wondering if you can elaborate on what you would define as "proficient" enough if 5 years isn't enough time to reach that level. You're saying 5 years after their type course doesn't = proficient?

Is that normal in other RCAF fleets? USAF/USN/USMC, RAF, RAAF, etc forces are similar? Or is this RCAF fighter specific?
 
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SeaKingTacco

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The rcaf won’t get their money’s worth after only 5 years. It’s not nearly enough time to get a tech proficient enough on the CF-18. There is a similar program however with 431 Sqn, I can’t remember the CANAIRGEN number. After 4-5 years with the snowbirds a technician is eligible for a posting to fleet or geographical location of their choice. Similar program could work in cold lake but it would need to be 8-10 years with a gun squadron.
This is a data point of one, but in speaking with several pilots on Sqn today, a number seem to be re-evaluating their futures in light of this announcement, including one reservist who may CT back to Reg F, if the details actually pan out.

At least in my neck of the woods, this might have had a positive effect on retention. Mind you, it did nothing at all for ACSO or AESOp retention...
 

Eye In The Sky

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While in our SOPs, there are tasks for other trades in the start, taxi and takeoff phase, pretty much every aircraft in our inventory could takeoff with pilots alone. I have flown the P-3 and Seahawk with just pilots. Granted, from a systems point of view, nothing was happening, flying the aircraft was possible.

I get what you're saying, but we usually do more with most of our fleets than "fly" in the basic sense...an operational CP-140 crew requires pilots, FEs, ACSO and AES Ops (NASO and ASOs). An FE is required for a PPF....not really much point in saying "well, if we could take off we could 'fly' if you can't take off. ;)
 
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