In 2018, the overarching turnover of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force was just below 8.1%. The average turnover rate since 2002 is 6.3% with a peak of 8.58% in 2012. This level of turnover, or higher, is often seen in other military organisations.
This overarching turnover rate can be further broken down. At its most basic level, this can be categorised as trained or untrained personnel. Untrained personnel are those that do not complete their initial training for example General Service recruits or 2 Star Privates or Cadets. On average 22% of General Service Recruits do not complete their training.
The number of trained personnel departing can vary year-on-year with significant differences not being unusual. The long run departure average for trained personnel is approximately 500 per annum. Departures of trained personnel in 2011 and 2012 exceeded 600 each year reaching a high of 677 in 2012. Departures in 2013 and 2014 were below 400 each year, reaching a low of 356 in 2014. In 2018. some 592 trained personnel departed.
The overarching turnover level does not illustrate important underlying trends. As the rate of turnover within a military organisation can differ across functional areas, the impact of turnover can vary accordingly. As I have previously outlined, particular challenges exist in certain specialist areas, for example pilots. I understand that this has proved challenging for many military forces internationally and it is not unique to Ireland.
There are a range of factors that influence a person's decision to remain in the Defence Forces. These include career progression opportunities, pay, personal development opportunities, work–life balance, job stimulation and work environment.
There are significant opportunities for career progression and development within the Defence Forces and there were over 800 promotions in the PDF in 2018. The Defence Forces actively encourage and support personnel to undertake education and training as well as participate in physical development and sport. Members of the Defence Forces have opportunities for diverse service, including opportunities to serve overseas. I am also aware that the military authorities have introduced further initiatives to enhance work-life balance and I very much welcome this.
Members of the Permanent Defence Force have received the pay increases due under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In addition in 2017, following negotiations with PDFORRA, improved pay scales for general service recruits and privates, who joined the Permanent Defence Force post 1 January 2013, were implemented. The Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, provides for increases in pay ranging from 6.2% to 7.4% over the lifetime of the Agreement. The increases due under the agreement from 1 January 2018, 1 October 2018 and 1 January 2019, have been paid to Permanent Defence Force personnel. Further increases in pay are scheduled in 2019 and 2020.
The Government has tasked the Public Service Pay Commission with conducting a comprehensive examination of recruitment and retention challenges in the Defence Sector. The Commission's work is on-going. The Government will give due consideration to the findings and any recommendations that arise from the work of the Commission.
The current challenges being faced by the Defence Forces are not unique and are also being experienced by other military organisations internationally. I will continue to work closely with the Secretary General and the Chief of Staff in furthering management responses to address current challenges.