The Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm is launching a campaign to encourage more high calibre candidates to apply to join.
The Fleet Air Arm has around 6,200 staff and 250 aircraft. But recruitment officer Lieutenant Comm-ander Simon Sparkes said research shows 80 per cent of people surveyed didn't realise the Navy has its own aircraft and crew.
"Unlike the RAF we don't have airbases all over the country and we don't get enough candidates coming forward. Employment levels are so high and we are competing against everyone else for the young people coming out of school."
The recruitment campaign is being run online and through the media, career fairs and air shows. This year Lt Cmdr Sparkes hopes to take it into schools also.
The Fleet Air Arm employs people in a wide variety of aircrew and engineering roles including pilots, observers, aircrew officers, air traffic controllers, engineer officers, aircraft handlers and engineering technicians. People training as observers or pilots can now credit their training modules towards a BSc in Aviation from The Open University.
Around 400 people in engineering roles are hired each year but there are fewer aircrew vacancies. About 45 new pilots, 45 observers (air combat systems officers) and six traffic controllers are accepted annually.
Applicants for these positions must be aged between 17 and 26 and have five good GCSE subjects including maths and English. The selection process is tough and fewer than one in four people are accepted.
Lieutenant Rebecca Martin has just completed two and half years training to become a Lynx observer and said the course was difficult. "You go through quite a lot to even be accepted. You need to have determination and dedication. I really found it quite challenging. Anybody who says they didn't find it challenging is probably lying."
Only about half the people who start training to be pilots complete it successfully, although most people who leave the programme stay in the Navy in other roles.
It takes three and half years to train as a helicopter pilot with a further six months for jet pilots. Lt Cmdr Sparkes said only 10 per cent of pilots will learn how to fly jets and there is a lot of competition for the jobs.
Lieutenant Richard Dixon has been in the navy for nine years and has just finished training as a Lynx pilot. "My brother was in the Navy and that's what started me looking into it. I found out that the Navy flew and the more I looked into it the more in appealed. I liked the variety.
"As a flying job I doubt you would find anything more challenging or varied. There are so many different routes you can take within the Navy."
Source: Flight Daily News