The Army Engagement Group (AEG) has published its annual report, providing a measurement of AEG activity between March 2020 and February 2021, summarising feedback from civilian audiences and introducing proposed initiatives for the forthcoming year.
The AEG consists of 22 people across 5 teams led by Lt Col Terry, Commander AEG:
- The Army Engagement Team (AET) – delivers flagship presentation in support of Regional Points of Contact (RPOC).
- The Army Business and Communities Engagement Team (ABCET) – can be task organised to engage with specific audiences such as Employers/Businesses, faith groups, social/youth clubs.
- The Army Diversity Engagement Team (ADET) – NEW – focused on Females, BAME and LGBTQ+.
- The Army Youth Outreach Team (AYOT) designed to ATTRACT, EDUCATE and CONNECT.
- The Army STEM Youth Engagement Team (ASYET) – NEW from April 2021.
Key figures from the AEG annual report include:
- The number of engagement activities reduced by 82% compared with 19/20, to 59 events, but overall attendance increased year-on-year to 7,585 people.
- 94% of guests said the presentation improved their understanding of the Army.
- Just under 20% of guests had a neutral or negative opinion of the Army prior to an event, of these 72% reported their opinion had been subsequently improved.
- Female representation has averaged 72%, with 6 events specifically aimed at influential female audiences.
- BAME representation is estimated at 13% across all events (some guests ethnicity is divined from their names or organisation.)
- 11% of the audience was aged between 14-18. We know that youth gatekeepers have passed our invites onto young people, this very rarely happens with F2F events and partly explains why historically only a handful of young people attend events during the course of a routine tour year.
- 71% of those employers who don’t currently have a Service Leaver or Reservist in their company stated they would now actively seek to hire one as a result of the presentation.
The main initiative this year was the introduction of a Virtual Engagement (VE) capability.
VE offers multiple advantages, enabling a larger geographical area to be targeted thereby increasing reach, attendance and tempo, and reducing travel costs. It’s a more attractive format for certain guests, because the commitment in terms of time and effort is less, guests can watch from the home or office.
Every VE is a 1hr broadcast comprised of an introduction from the RPoC SMH, an abridged version of the award-winning ‘Your Army’ presentation and a Q&A session.
The presentation provides an opportunity to convey key Army and Defence messaging and allows the RPoCs to demonstrate how they have been supporting either the devolved Governments or their Local Authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AEG reports that Employer engagement has been significantly impacted by COVID-19.
While the AEG has made the transition to offering Virtual Engt (VE), uptake has been limited. The AEG Conduct Employer Engagement in accordance with Defence People Employer Engagement Strategy and Directive, in line with the Regional Command Engagement activity list 20-21 in order to enable recruiting, enhance the Army’s reputation and connect with society. As COVID-19 restrictions lift in 2021, this is expected to be an area of enhanced focus for the ABCET.
The AEG is guided by a Target List of locations, working with Regional Point of Contact (RPOC) for civilian engagement. Additionally, all members of the AEG are directed to exploit contacts and proactively look for opportunities.
Analytics captured at each event enable the AEG’s Business Team to provide RPoCs with details of who viewed each broadcast (Name, Position & Organisation) as well as their contact email address, enabling further contact, such as sending them a copy of the recorded broadcast.
Guests at AET events are targeted by the AEG’s Business Team following direction given by Reginal Command and RPoCs. The goal of the AEG teams are to: INFORM, INFLUENCE and EDUCATE in order to CONNECT with society and support the wider ATTRACT. The AEG has continued to focus on two core priorities, Engage to Influence and Engage to Attract.
Much of the focus this year has been on the Youth and Education sector.
An average of around 30 questions are asked at every event, with the 30 min session allowing approximately 10-15 of these to be answered during the broadcast. A third of all questions related to recruiting. Guests are keen to know the percentage of Female and BAME soldiers, as well as details on how many achieve senior Officer status.
Overall, most guests find the presentation to be enlightening and are surprised by some of the information and facts that they hear e.g. a number of careers advisers were unaware that the Army was recently announced as the top Apprenticeship Employer in 2020. A teacher at a recent event commented that they were ‘very surprised that the Army was such an inclusive employer. This demonstrated the need to inform and myth bust and will be an area of growth through 2021.
The AEG expects to be able to run 23 events this year, with a blend of face-to-face, virtual and hybrid events to maximise reach.
The AEG will continue to focus their activity at target groups directed by RC and RPOCs, where the utility of effort is perceived to have the greatest effect: Youth, Female, UK BAME and LGBTQ+.