The Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Navy (CEMA), Admiral Mendes Calado, has accepted the challenge of recruiting 800 quality naval recruits. These, he said, are needed to replace retirees and keep the maritime force at an optimum level.
Speaking to reporters during the CONTEX-PHIBEX, the most significant naval exercise undertaken by the Portuguese Navy this year, the Chief of Staff admitted that his main concern regarding naval personal is recruitment and retention of human resources. The Navy has about 11,000 serving personnel, of which 8,000 are military personnel, with the rest being made up by civilians. However, like all business’s retirement and a lack of recruits has created a shortfall. He went on to say that the Portuguese Navy, and European navies in general, are under pressure as a lack of apprentices and a perception that naval life is difficult is failing to attract young people. Adding, he said that additional stresses in the form of serving long periods at sea, which causes further strain on families, children and other personal relationships also needed to be addressed and that there is a need to create conditions that will attract youngsters and others to choose the Navy as a way of life.
It is not easy to recruit the people the Navy needs in terms of quantity and quality because they are technological institutions. We need talented people to withstand both adverse working conditions and the technical requirements that are required to operate our maritime vessels. One of the ways to reverse this trend he said and attract more people to this branch of the Armed Forces is, according to Admiral Mendes Calado, is to try to get people better paid. In this respect, recent upgrades to salaries have meant that first level entry recruits in the Navy and Armed Forces, in general, will be paid in line with current legislation.
A second area to be looked at is how to attract more people into the Navy. And so, a new communication programme has been designed to reach out to the young people in a more open, frank and transparent way, allowing them to identify with the Navy and the careers it offers. Finally, since becoming Chief of Staff, Admiral Mendes Calado is trying to align the Navy’s requirements against people interests both professionally and in terms of family, especially in regard of annual leave, postings abroad and long periods spent at sea. Speaking frankly, he said ‘we cannot pretend that serving personnel have no family at home. And as such, we need to create working environments combined with good leadership that motivate and create working conditions where individuals feel valued, secure and included.
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