Sat, 03 Dec 2022

DUBLIN, Ireland: A class of five Naval Service apprentices has agreed to leave the service after one year of training and join a private firm.

The apprentices agreed to allow multinational medical supply company Stryker in Cork to buy out their contracts with the navy, at a cost of nearly 30,000 euros each.

This comes amidst a worsening retention crisis in the Defense Forces.

The five apprentices were training as ships' electricians, when they notified the service that they would leave.

Sources said that Stryker was impressed with the quality of the apprentices' work and offered each of them permanent positions, as well as buying out their military contracts. Two recruits have already joined the firm, while the remaining three are in the process of leaving the navy.

Military sources said the 30,000 euro price to buy out the contracts represents a small amount of the cost to the Naval Service for the training the apprentices received.

Officials report that nearly 270 personnel left the Defense Forces thus far in 2022. This is nearly triple the number who left in 2021.

Also, only 44 women joined the Defense Forces last year, in spite of new recruitment programs.

Stryker, like other multinational companies, often recruits Naval Service personnel.

"We call our ships Long Eireannach. It's got to the point where we call Stryker Long Stryker there's so many navy guys there now," one naval source said, as reported by the Irish Times.

Mark Keane, president of the Permanent Defense Force Other Ranks Representative Association, representing enlisted Defense Forces personnel, said the "discharge by purchase" procedure has resulted in the loss of skilled personnel to the private sector.

"In this case, PDFORRA is aware that members have paid sums in excess of €25,000 to leave the Defense Forces," he said, as reported by the Irish Times.

"The loss of these personnel will have long-term planning implications for the Naval Service due to the lead-in time necessary to qualify personnel, and this will have multiple knock-on effects on service delivery."

Keane said Defense Forces personnel are leaving the service due to factors, such as pay, allowances and the failure to apply the working time directive.

"In the case of electrical artificers, who are those leaving in this case, the rate of allowance has not increased and the other factors are ones that have also not changed to the extent necessary," Keane said.

Meanwhile, the Government has set a goal to increase Defense Forces strength by 3,000 by 2028, which includes a 400 net increase next year.

The Defence Forces currently are staffed at 8,146, or 86 per cent of its maximum strength. However, this represents a 5 per cent drop since 2021.

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