Talent: The next major battle for the Armed Forces
The political and social situation across the world is changing, the Armed Forces need new (highly) skilled people to be able to fulfil their tasks, especially in technology. During previous decades, when the world was relatively stable, Armed Forces around the globe decreased their workforces, forced to do so as politicians lowered defense budgets with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain. But now that the world is changing with new threats, countries are increasingly investing in their defense budgets.
War on talent Now that budgets are increasing, defense needs to invest in hiring new people. But finding new skilled people is difficult in the current labor market, and finding highly skilled technical people is very difficult.
To fulfil their strategy, the Armed Forces need people with a technical and IT background. Over the last decade, IT has become increasingly important for the Armed Forces as it the new frontline of warfare and defense. But getting bright young people with an IT education is hard because the Armed Forces have to compete with the Googles and Microsofts of this world.
Agile Armed Forces In 2017, the Dutch Minister for Defense sent a letter to Parliament detailing a program called ‘The Total Force Concept’. It addressed the issue of how difficult finding technical talent is and concluded: “If you can’t beat them, join them!”
Within the program, she presented how she wants to see the Armed Forces working with companies and organizations in an even more flexible and sustainable way. The Armed Forces no longer need have everything on their own departments, for example, but could make use of people and equipment when and where they need them from external organizations resources.
To get input from companies and organizations, the Ministry organized a two-day conference titled ‘From partnerships to ecosystems: Combining our efforts for a more secure world’.
The battlefield’s digital transformation
The war on IT talent is probably the hardest war of all. For Ministries of Defense to be ready for the digital transformation of their battlefields and to avoid a war on talent, they should seek cooperation with commercial IT suppliers. And with the world of IT changing rapidly, keeping up requires Ministries to find partners to accompany them on their transformation journey.
But are IT companies prepared to work in cooperation with Ministries? Companies are interested in close cooperation with the defense market because the market has high stakes and high requirements. The defence market also has the budget to invest in research and development across the market. This makes working with the defense market very interesting for technology companies.
But what are the benefits for the defense market? Firstly, the defense market can share its R&D investment with the technology market. Combining both budget increases spending power and, hopefully, helping the defense sector to achieve more, faster. Secondly, defence can benefit from the innovation and R&D in other markets and translate them for military purposes.
Defense and companies need each other. Companies and defense need to cooperate to make this world a safer place for our children. What better way to do this than working together to support our Armed Forces!