Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (48)

John Lahart

Question:

48. Deputy John Lahart asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the staffing levels at Baldonnel Aerodrome in each of the years 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018. [41441/18]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The military authorities have provided the following table, which contains the details of the staffing levels at Baldonnel Aerodrome for each of the years 2011 and to date in 2018.

YEAR

TOTAL STRENGTH

2011

785

2012

783

2013

769

2014

769

2015

750

2016

704

2017

724

2018*

700

*2018 figures correct as of 31 August 2018

As the Deputy is aware, I have previously acknowledged that, in the Air Corps, there are particular challenges with vacancies in certain specialist posts such as Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers and certain Technicians. The level of training and experience gained by members of the Defence Forces makes them attractive to private sector employers. The Defence Forces are not unique in this regard and this is experienced by other parts of the public service and by other military organisations internationally.

Under my direction, the Department brought the issue of recruitment and retention of these specialists to the attention of the Public Service Pay Commission. The Government will study any recommendations arising from the Public Service Pay Commission when they are published.

In addition to availing of traditional recruitment to address vacancies in these specialist positions, I have initiated a range of actions which include the development of alternative recruitment methods. A working group is examining the scope for greater use of direct entry recruitment for certain specialist positions and steps are being progressed to enable former members of the Permanent Defence Force, who have sought after skills, to re-enter the PDF. I will continue to work closely with the Chief of Staff in developing these approaches.

Following recent recruitment competitions, the military authorities have informed me that 7 Cadet Pilots and 20 Apprentice Military Aircraft Technicians were inducted in September.