The Ministry of Defence is fully engaged in the war for talent. The Belgian army is looking for 4,210 new personnel and for the first time will retroactively pay tuition fees for certain technical profiles that decide to sign up to the military after starting a higher education course.
Young people who have already started a technical bachelor's degree can still enter the Defence programme after one or two years. The student will continue their education but will have the tuition fees for years that they have already studied refunded. They will also receive a salary from the defence ministry. In exchange, students must serve in the army for one and a half times the duration of their studies.
"We are pulling out all the stops to bring in technically skilled profiles," says job marketing manager Margot Van Waeyenberghe. "Now young people who have already started their training can still join us and get paid. That's a win-win situation."
Confronted with the massive departure of baby-boom retirees, the Ministry of Defence is multiplying initiatives to add more young talent into its ranks.
On Monday, the Minister of Defence, Ludivine Dedonder, highlighted the Reboot4you project that aims to encourage young people of working age who are not in work or in training to take up a job in the Ministry of Defence, report La Libre and De Tijd.
She also mentioned the secondary school course on security professions, and the future Collective Utility Service which will allow young unemployed people to better discover the army.
Still not enough
Despite recruitment efforts, the number of personnel continues to decrease, with figures showing more departures than entries. The Minister of Defence recruited a record number of new trainees last year when the army was allowed to enlist more than 3,000 new recruits, including 2,500 soldiers.
However, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Belgium decided to expand its military.
Belgium hopes to grow its army from 25,000 to 29,000 personnel by 2030. It aims explicitly to attract more civilians: 4,000 in the coming eight years. With this goal in its sights, the Ministry of Defence will start looking for 760 civilian personnel by 2023, De Morgen reported.
Vacancies are spread over all branches of Belgium's Defence, with a specific focus on technical profiles. Yet with demand for such profiles high at present, the Ministry of Defence pays in full for the training for certain positions if a candidate joins the Ministry of Defence after completing their education.