Tuesday 19 September 2017

Social media drive sees women flock to Defence Forces

Sgt Valerie Cole was the face of the military for last year’s campaign. Photo: Mark Condren
Sgt Valerie Cole was the face of the military for last year’s campaign. Photo: Mark Condren
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

A Defence Forces recruitment campaign with a focus on digital and social media saw a massive 13pc increase in applications with more than 600 women coming forward.

The campaign, which ended earlier this month, was aimed at filling 860 posts at recruit, apprentice and cadet grades. It built on last year's successes when recruitment reached a historic high, with an intake of 690 personnel including the largest cadet class in the State's history.

The campaign attracted 5,210 applicants, compared with 4,590 in 2016 - and 13pc of them were women, which is in line with the Government's plan to double female participation in the Defence Forces from its current 6pc.

Following a review, advertising during the campaign concentrated in particular on "sporty" women, who were reckoned to be highly motivated, ambitious, fit and regarded as team players while also highlighting the attractions of a life for them in the military.

The face of the military for last year's campaign was Sgt Valerie Cole (31), a prominent athlete with the Rathfarnham club in south Dublin but native of Annaduff, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.

She has now started a six-month tour of duty as a platoon sergeant with the Irish peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights, between Syria and Israel.

Up to now, the military has struggled to increase the number of women above 6pc.

As part of the fresh approach, the Defence Forces also became the first military organisation in the world to create a first-person interactive video in the recruitment campaign. It was launched in February with a social media video which asked people if they had what it took to "make an impact". The video received almost one million views.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett said: "How we are reaching out to potential recruits is different this year but what we offer them remains the same.

"A career in the Defence Forces is an opportunity to serve your country and make an impact in some of the world's most troubled regions while also receiving first-class training and education along the way."

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said one of his main priorities was to ensure the achievement of the establishment figure of 9,500 for the Defence Forces and he had provided finances for that. He said this year's campaign was likely to be the most successful in more than a decade.

"Recruitment is vital as it ensures that the Defence Forces are re-invigorated with new ideas, new thinking and energetic personnel to meet the challenges both at home and overseas. In turn a career in the Defence Forces opens up significant opportunities, for each individual, offering unique career prospects and first-class training."

Irish Independent

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