Recruitment of British Army soldiers has been transformed following a re-set of Capita’s Recruiting Partnering Project (RPP) with the Army.

Not only did Capita’s latest recruitment campaign – Your Army Needs You – lead to a five-year high in applications in January, we are now confident that Capita will successfully hit at least 90% of the target for the number of soldiers who will start training in 2019/20.

This success rate comfortably exceeds the 80% forecast the Army made to MPs in January, which in itself would have marked a turnaround for a project that struggled with IT problems and stringent contract terms in earlier years.

At the half-year point, RPP had hit 99% of the year-to-date target for soldiers starting basic training. In 2018/19 we recruited only 60% of that target over the full year, as we implemented a number of changes to improve recruitment.

Capita and the Army have worked closely together to effectively revamp the contract, including the introduction of ‘role model’ soldiers working with top class civilian recruiters at a regional level.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, has described the re-set partnership as a “model” for how the public sector and private contractors can work together.

As well as attracting more applications, we have overhauled the recruitment process so it is now significantly quicker – this year, one candidate received an offer of basic training a record 16 days after applying and several others have been through in 20 days or less. The overall average of more than 200 days is falling quickly after a successful pilot scheme to reduce this.

There has also been a significant reduction – from 5% to less than 2% - in the number of applicants who leave the process, between getting an offer of basic training and starting the training, due to improved communication and better nurturing of those candidates.

While there has been understandable focus on soldiers, we have also filled the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – the Army’s renowned officer training school - for eight successive intakes (nearly three years).

A Capita spokesperson said: “Following the successful re-set of the partnership with the Army in the first half of last year, there has been a major turnaround in the performance of the contract. In the past year, we have seen record numbers of applications, the quickest time ever that a candidate has received an offer of basic training, and regular full intakes of soldiers.

“Improvements made have included a stabilised and sophisticated IT system, a level of granular research that has allowed the partnership to identify where, when and why a candidate might drop out of the process, and young role model corporals working with professional civilian recruiters in our careers centres.

“While it is too early in the year to make precise forecasts – and figures need to be audited – it is correct that we are very confident of hitting 90%-plus and are continuing to make improvements.”