A summer of success – full-time Army Reserve employment program attracts more job-seekers than projected

Article / September 13, 2018 / Project number: 18-0083

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By Second Lieutenant Natalia Flynn, Army Public Affairs

The summer of 2018 featured the inaugural run of the Canadian Army’s Full-Time Summer Employment (FTSE) Program. Open to Reservists in their first four years of service, the program offered guaranteed summer employment and enjoyed great success, with 4,400 Reservists from across Canada accepting an offer; a return that exceeded projections.

“We were encouraged by the early signs of interest,” said Colonel Thomas MacKay, Director Canadian Army Reserve. “Our initial estimates for participation among the Army Reserve’s eligible population were around 35 percent and the reality just blew away those estimates. We were so thrilled with the actual uptake, which exceeded 60 percent of eligible personnel,” Col MacKay said.

The FTSE program was introduced as part of the commitment made in Strong Secure Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy to increase the size of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves, including the Army Reserve.

A 10 per cent increase in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Reserves budget was earmarked specifically for FTSE, which in Col MacKay’s view was a clear vote of confidence from the Government of Canada in the Army’s ability to deliver at the ground-level on its policy commitment. This program is part of a broader push to improve the Army Reserve.

The Strengthening the Army Reserve (StAR) strategy outlines a series of initiatives that focus on enhancing force readiness for domestic and international operations. At home, a Reserve Force focus is Operation LENTUS, which is the CAF’s response to requests from provincial and territorial authorities for help in responding to natural disasters in Canada.

Under StAR, the Army is working to recruit and retain 1,850 additional troops, build greater visibility with more ceremonial presence at public places and events, and synchronize training with the Regular Force. Of twelve major themes that fall under StAR, FTSE is one of the most important.

Full-time work in various occupations at units across Canada was offered between May 1 and August 31, 2018 to all Reservists in their first four years of service for the period of time of their choosing. During this time, participants gained unique and relevant work experience while learning valuable life and leadership skills.

A tailored employment plan was developed by their supervisors for each of the 4,400 soldiers who took advantage of the FTSE program, with priority given to the training and employment that best helped them to advance in their chosen fields.

“The Army took the administrative burden off the individual and put it onto the institution, so the Reservist was able to have a smooth summer of employment with no interruptions in pay,” said Col MacKay. Through FTSE, the Reserve helps its members to balance their civilian life with military service.

Under StAR, the Army is assigning “mission tasks”, or specific capabilities to particular units, which will encompass a wide range of Army-specific functions and provide the Army Reserve with a clear mandate for generating operational troops.

Mission tasks will include Arctic response company groups, assault pioneers, mortars, influence activities, light urban search and rescue, and light engineer bridging. The intent is to optimize resources and training so that Army Reserve units can be fully integrated with their Regular Force counterparts, ultimately enhancing the overall effectiveness of the CAF.

Col MacKay is enthusiastic. “FTSE offers us an incredible opportunity to provide the necessary training to support mission tasks. Operationalizing the Army Reserve will help us develop full-time capability from a part-time force. It’s truly an exciting time to be a Reservist,” he said.

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