There is a shortage of sailors in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Approximately 1,500 positions are to be filled out of the 7,768 positions managed by the Navy. In this context, the managers launched, on March 31, a new recruitment program centered on a one-year contract, instead of the three associated with a regular appointment.

A year ? That is a very short time to learn a trade. But this is the right time to make up your mind, say officials of this branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, who have also made changes to the terms of engagement.

“The normal recruitment process is that recruit candidates arrive at a center and make a selection of a trade before they are even familiar with it, notes Captain (Navy) Stéphane Ouellet, spokesperson for the project. Our new program (L’Expérience de la Marine, or PEM) gives candidates the opportunity to get to know the trades better before making a choice at the end of the experience. »

In the new one-year program, the learning sequence will also be different, continues Captain Ouellet. Those hired will first complete basic training in the Canadian Armed Forces. Then, they will learn the basics of seamanship (responding to damage, fighting a fire, handling mooring lines, looking out) at one of the two major Navy bases, either Halifax, Nova Scotia or Esquimalt, British Columbia. And during the last seven months of training, they will explore various specialized trades while being paired with colleagues already in the ranks of the Navy.

It is only at the end of this process that people wishing to stay for a career will choose the trade in which they wish to specialize.

Participants in The Navy Experience will be hired, paid, travel across Canada and have the opportunity to board various types of vessels, whether Halifax-class, coastal defense, patrols in the Arctic, submarines or even sailboats, such as HMCS Oriole.

Joyful? Wait !

“Enlisted persons become members of the Canadian Armed Forces for one year. This is not a vacation camp, warns Captain Ouellet. Those who want to get out before the end will go through the normal release process which can take 30 to 45 days. »

Get out before the end? For what ?

Conversely, candidates who experience an epiphany before the end of their 12-month training may indicate their desire to begin their specialized training more quickly.

The Navy does not hide the fact that mechanics are a rare commodity at home. Other areas are also understaffed, according to the Canadian Armed Forces website: naval communications specialist, naval warfare officer, boatswain, diver, etc.

“Our goal is to have 144 people applying per year. This number could grow over the years,” said Captain Ouellet, who has a 31-year career in the navy and was commander of the submarine fleet. “The EMP is a five-year pilot project. Our intention is to evolve. If there are things that are not working, we will be able to adapt. »

The program is open to people between the ages of 16 and 57. As with all candidates who wish to become non-commissioned members, you must have obtained 24 Secondary IV credits to enlist.

There is undoubtedly a financial risk for the Canadian Armed Forces in creating this program, because training a soldier involves a significant investment. It was not possible to obtain additional information on the annual costs of training seafarers.