Massive recruitment in the defence industry in response to record orders

military recrutement

Defence companies are recruiting at a rate unprecedented since the end of the Cold War to meet order books that are close to all-time records.


Defence companies around the world are hiring at a rate not seen for decades to meet record order books. This hiring frenzy is fuelled by an increase in military spending due to geopolitical tensions and the war in Ukraine. Companies are looking for engineers, software developers and cybersecurity analysts, among other skills. The sector is facing increased competition for talent, particularly from technology companies. Specific measures, such as the opening of nuclear skills academies, are being put in place to train thousands of new workers.

Unprecedented growth in orders since the Cold War

The global defence industry is experiencing a growth phase unprecedented since the end of the Cold War. The order books of major defence companies such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are at record levels. Lockheed Martin, for example, currently has nearly 6,000 vacancies, while ten major defence companies are planning to increase their workforces by nearly 37,000, or around 10% of their total workforce.

This rapid increase in orders is mainly due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising geopolitical tensions. Governments have stepped up their military spending, seeking to strengthen their defence capabilities in the face of an increasingly unstable global environment. In Europe, defence spending is set to rise by 13% by 2022, reaching around €345 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The benefits of this growth are clear for the defence industry: increased revenues, job creation and enhanced technological capabilities. However, the drawbacks include increased pressure on supply chains and fierce competition for skilled talent, which can lead to cost increases and production delays.

Impact on the defence labour market

Increased demand has led to a hiring frenzy in the defence industry. Companies are looking for a wide range of profiles, from apprentices to experienced managers. Technical skills are particularly in demand, including engineers, software developers and cybersecurity analysts. Antonio Liotti, Leonardo’s Human Resources Director, said that the Italian company plans to recruit 6,000 new employees by the end of 2024 and between 8,000 and 10,000 between 2025 and 2028.

This quest for new talent is not only motivated by the ongoing conflicts. Competition with technology industries and consultancies is also playing a significant role. Defence companies have to compete with sectors that often offer attractive working conditions and competitive salaries. In addition, the search for a better work-life balance, as well as the phenomenon of “quiet quitting”, further complicate recruitment efforts.

There are many advantages to these recruitment initiatives: they enable us to meet growing demand, innovate and maintain a technological edge. However, the main disadvantage is the high cost of training and recruitment, as well as the risk of a shortage of specific skills, which could slow down development programmes.

military recrutement

Concrete examples of initiatives and projects

Several companies have set up specific initiatives to meet this growing demand. Nammo, a company partly owned by the Norwegian and Finnish governments, has increased its workforce by 15% between 2021 and 2023, and plans to double its size by 2030. Rheinmetall in Germany is looking to recruit hundreds of employees from Continental, an automotive parts manufacturer, to compensate for falling demand in the automotive sector.

In France, Thales has recruited 9,000 people over the past three years for its defence operations, representing 11% of its current workforce of 81,000. BAE Systems, meanwhile, has doubled its number of apprentices and graduates over the past five years, recruiting around 2,700 talented young people this year.

These initiatives illustrate the efforts made by companies to attract and train a new generation of workers. The benefits include a renewed and motivated workforce capable of meeting tomorrow’s technological challenges. However, potential drawbacks include the need for extensive training and the costs associated with integrating these new employees.

Long-term consequences and prospects

The consequences of this recruitment frenzy will be felt over the long term in the defence industry. Increasing the workforce will help to meet immediate demand and prepare the industry for future challenges. However, it will also pose challenges in terms of talent management and maintaining product quality and safety.

Training thousands of new employees requires considerable investment in time and resources. Companies must not only train these workers, but also ensure that they have the necessary skills to work in highly secure environments. For example, the nuclear sector, which has a high demand for skills, has launched specific academies to train qualified workers. Rolls-Royce and Babcock International have recently opened their own nuclear skills academies, while Thales UK has launched a sonar academy.

One of the main benefits of this approach is the creation of a highly skilled workforce capable of maintaining the technological edge of countries and companies. However, disadvantages include the high cost of training and the risk of talent shortages if programmes fail to attract enough qualified candidates.

Future prospects

The global defence industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation, marked by an unprecedented increase in orders and a hiring frenzy. This dynamic is fuelled by heightened geopolitical tensions and intense competition for talent. Defence companies are implementing ambitious initiatives to attract and train a new generation of workers, but they are also facing significant challenges in terms of costs and talent management.

The future prospects for the defence industry are promising, but they require a strategic approach to ensure that growth is sustainable and that companies can continue to innovate and meet global security needs. Investment in training and recruitment will be crucial to maintaining the industry’s competitiveness and ensuring that defence capabilities remain robust in the face of an increasingly complex global environment.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.