The first ever Armed Forces Jobs and Trades Fair to be held at Kings Hall, Belfast will take place over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 30th and 31st August and is open from 10am until 4pm each day.
Changes to the Armed Forces have opened up thousands of regular and reserve posts for applicants across Northern Ireland.
In the Irish regiments alone there are 200 full time posts waiting to be filled with the Irish Guards, Queens Royal Hussars, Royal Dragoon Guards and Royal Irish Regiment.
And the hunt is being stepped up to fill the growing Reserves footprint in Northern Ireland with up to 1000 posts in the Army Reserves at all ranks waiting to be filled.
Add to this the opportunities across the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force which are both also “growing” their reserves in Northern Ireland and the openings and skills available are immense.
The current breakdown of regular units show the Irish Guards need 60 to reach full manning, the Queens Royal Hussars and the Royal Dragoon Guards have 120 posts available and the Royal Irish Regiment is currently looking another 60 in the ranks.
With turnover it also means a need for a steady stream of recruits over the coming years in order to maintain the Armed Forces at peak.
The growth of the Army Reserves across Northern Ireland means immediate opportunities for medical staff, chefs, drivers, engineers, gunners and infantry across all counties.
Colonel Dick Rafferty who heads army recruitment in Northern Ireland says these are jobs that are available now – with more to come in the future. And he says the rewards have never been better, both financially and personally.
The introduction of a “Golden Hello” and the annual Tax free Bounty payments for Reservists as well as pension contributions and leave entitlement means today reserves have a package of support that equates with the best in civvy street.
“The variety of what is on offer is immense,” he said. “We have rewarding roles right now for men and women across the ranks and across the trades – whether that is as a regular or reservist. It is rewarding personally, its rewarding financially and its rewarding to be playing a major role within defence which is critical to the prosperity and well-being of the community.
The senior military commander in Northern Ireland, Brigadier Ralph Wooddisse says the opportunities for men and women with the Armed Forces are greater now than ever. “This is an ever changing world and the Armed Forces are cornerstone of the nation’s security.
“We are constantly busy whether that is combat operations such as those recently in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya but also with humanitarian operations, such as those in Pakistan after the earth quakes, and even in the UK with the recent flooding as well as support to other agencies such as the Olympics.
“Regular forces will continue to carry the brunt but where it works for individuals and employers there will be plenty of opportunity for reservists from Northern Ireland to do more operationally and in training. Currently there are reservists involved in operations and in training around the world and of course we are increasingly involved in support to agencies here in the UK such as the Olympics.
“There is absolutely a challenge ahead and from what I have seen and know of Northern Ireland it is certainly up to the challenge. Our job is to get out into the community and explain what we do and the nature of the challenges in the years ahead, “ he added.
The Royal Navy is also keen to step up recruiting in Northern Ireland and as well as playing a major role at the Armed Forces Jobs and Trades Fair will continue to play a significant role in engagement activities in NI.
Following on from the recent visit by HMS DUNCAN to her twinned city of Belfast plans are in hand for other visits this year around the coast. And both the Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve are keen to see more recruits from NI.
And the Royal Air Force is also offering opportunities across Northern Ireland for men and women both in regular and reserve service. A spokesman said:”We are still recruiting for the regular Royal Air Force across Northern Ireland, with over 50 trades and branches available at the moment ranging from Caterer, including Flight Attendants, to ICT Technicians on the ground side.
Opportunities for commissioned service are also available in most branches including Personnel Support, Logistics and Aircraft Engineering. We also have vacancies for Pilots for the first time in several years with prospects of flying any of the RAF aircraft types including the Typhoon, Chinook Helicopter, C 17 Transport aircraft or the Joint Strike Fighter F35 Lightening11, the newest addition to the Royal Air Force fleet.”