I continue to monitor the recruiting partnering project very closely.
Recruiting people into our armed forces today is more important than ever. The Defence Secretary said recently: “We’re working closely with Capita to make the contract work better”. Can the Minister give some specific examples of that work? How will he assess whether performance has improved, and in what timeframe?
Defence has been working closely with Capita on a recruitment improvement plan, which is now being implemented. Initial signs are promising. We now expect Capita to deliver on improvements in converting applicants to enlistees. We will monitor progress closely in the coming months, including ensuring that the new defence recruiting system reaches full operating capability as quickly as possible.
There is an awful lot going on at the moment. We are working closely with Capita. It would be wrong to say that there have not been challenges in implementing the defence recruiting system. There is also a change in demographics in the UK. That is why we are working so hard to widen our recruiting base and have set targets to recruit from both the BAME—black, Asian and minority ethnic—and female populations. There has been an increase of some 2.6% over the year, but we must do all we can to continue to ensure that joining the armed forces is an attractive occupation. I am particularly proud that the Army is now the largest employer of apprentices in the UK, which is something that we intend to continue.