The COVID-19 pandemic has upended labor markets throughout the world, and our own military is not immune. For the first time in history, the U.S. Army is offering a maximum enlistment bonus of up to $50,000 to “highly skilled recruits” who commit to at least six years of service, the Associated Press reports.
The new bonus offering comes as the armed forces struggle to lure new recruits into certain critical positions as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
These high-demand career fields include missile defense crew, special forces, signals intelligence and fire control specialists who coordinate battlefield weapons operations. Army Times reports that other key jobs include infantry, intelligence analyst, combat medic specialist, military police, combat engineer and several others. These jobs may change every month based on available spots in the training pipeline and ever-evolving service needs.
Major General Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, told the Associated Press that the pandemic has made it difficult to recruit both at school and at public events as educational venues close down and people social distance amidst virus fears.
“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID when the school systems basically shut down,” Vereen told the AP. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”
Top bonuses for skilled recruits in the past usually topped out at $40,000, but recruitment officials have significantly increased the incentive to lure in candidates — a similar tactic to one businesses have been employing in recent years to attract new talent.
Vereen says that the Army hopes the increase in bonuses will help attract new talent amid a challenging landscape for military recruiters.
The final bonus amount will depend on when recruits agree to ship out for training, whether they already have critical skills — and whether or not they choose airborne or ranger posts.
Given the high level of skill and demand needed for intelligence positions, not every recruit will be eligible for the top bonus. The Army is looking to fill both part-time and full-time positions in about 150 career fields for both active-duty and reserve positions.
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