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Activity title

Recruitment and Retention of Young Civilian Scientists

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System Analysis and Studies

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Awaiting Publication

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defense scientists, recruitment, Retention


The Science and Technology (S&T) organizations of many NATO nations have an aging workforce and are facing challenges recruiting and retaining young, top, diverse civilian scientists. There are many contributing factors to the current state of affairs. During the past decade, beginning with various economic crises such as the global financial crisis and European debt crisis, governments were faced with increasing budget pressures that resulted in a reduction and/or lack of sustained hiring in S&T workforces. At the same time, there has been an increase in innovation outside of the defence public sector that has made the marketplace more competitive for attracting top, young talent. Furthermore, the younger generation may be less attracted by the same incentives and less likely to stay with the same organization throughout their careers, thus making it more difficult to both recruit and retain scientists using the existing compensation mechanisms and working conditions. Finally, some nations are struggling to recruit and retain diverse groups in their S&T workforce (for example, women and visible minorities) and reach representational goals set by the organization.


The objective is to exchange best practices and identify effective and sustainable recruitment and retention activities strategies for top, early-career, diverse civilian scientists (minimum of Bachelor’s degree and less than five relevant years’ work experience; for many participating nations, Masters and PhDs are the focus).


• How to be more innovative and effective in the attraction and selection of scientists, including understanding job incentives that are appealing to the target workforce, what competitors (for example, private sector, academia) have to offer, and how to be more competitive in the job market within the constraints of our respective organizations; • How to develop effective retention strategies and relevant workforce planning strategies, including understanding what makes a defence and security S&T organization attractive (or not) to early-career, diverse scientists, fostering an inclusive work environment, identifying what causes people to leave, and how to reduce barriers; • Knowledge and skills required of leadership to lead a younger workforce and how to educate current leadership

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