Coast Guard Announces New 'Talent Acquisition' Rating to Address Recruiting Crisis

Coast Guard boot camp recruits shout a response
Coast Guard boot camp recruits shout a response to their company commander at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, May 18, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Ferdinando)

The Coast Guard announced Monday that it will create a new career path for recruiters -- a move aimed at addressing shortfalls in attracting new members over the last four years.

Gary Rasicot, deputy for personnel readiness, said in a Coast Guard-wide message that the service will make recruiting a permanent rating instead of a shore assignment for those trained in other occupations.

The "talent acquisition specialists," or TAs, will be trained to identify, attract and recruit new members to the service. The designation is expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

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"The creation of the TA rating is not just a change, but a revolution in the way we recognize and advance the skills of our dedicated recruiters," Rasicot wrote in the announcement.

The Coast Guard has struggled to bring in recruits, failing to meet its enlisted goals for the past four years. In mid-2023, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan told Congress that the service was short 3,500 members, while the service's fiscal 2024 budget request reported a shortfall of 4,800, or nearly 10% of its force.

Officials have reported that, in the past several months, the service has been recruiting at its fastest pace since 2020 after having made a number of changes to fill vacancies, including a referral program that pays bonuses to members, retirees or civilians who successfully steer someone to join the Coast Guard; a new bonus program; new recruiting centers; and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units at high schools.

With the TA rating, Coast Guard officials seek to build a dedicated corps of recruiters who will hone their skills and have access to career advancement in their fields, according to the announcement.

"By serving in key roles within the Coast Guard Recruiting Command and other critical areas,
they will be pivotal in shaping a future-ready Coast Guard, driven by respect, readiness, and a commitment to excellence," Rasicot wrote.

The new rating will be phased in, beginning with the conversion of roughly 80 special-assignment billets to TA positions. The first Coasties to fill those jobs will focus on leadership roles such as recruiter-in-charge positions and regional supervisors.

The second phase will convert half the remaining special-assignment recruiter positions to TA billets.

The change is part of what Vice Adm. Peter Gautier, the Coast Guard's deputy commandant for operations, called a "full-scale recruiting effort" during a hearing in late November before the House Homeland Security Committee.

Gautier said the service is pushing to close the nearly 10% gap in its enlisted workforce.

"We've asked for money from Congress in the fiscal year 2024 budget in order to support recruiting, in order to support the kind of monetary awards and incentives that we need in order to retain people, especially in critical rates like in the cyber rating and in other ratings like that," Gautier said.

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