Programme Castle is set to completely modernise the way your soldier’s career is currently structured. So how is it going to change things? We asked the director of the scheme, Brigadier James Cook, to tell us…
What is Programme CASTLE?
CASTLE is an army careers transformation programme that will modernise careers and maximise talent. Many of the current career policies were based on research done in 1959 and, unsurprisingly, society has changed since then! Back then only 30 per cent of army spouses were employed, nowadays, it’s more like 77 per cent. People have different expectations of their careers and we need to accommodate that to be truly successful.
What are the timescales?
The programme is made up of a series of smaller projects that each focus on a specific area of career management. Some are already in use and some are much larger and won’t come in until 2025.
What will the differences be?
We’re introducing an online career management portal where your soldier will be able to browse a list of jobs they’re suited to. It’ll be on their own device at home so you can discuss postings with all the information at your fingertips – because we know who actually makes the decisions! It will also be possible to see what skills your soldier has at their current level and what they need to progress to the next level and beyond, within the Army Talent Framework.
How will my soldier’s career benefit?
Your soldier will have more choice and they’ll be able to make informed decisions as they will have access to more information. We’re making sure we understand exactly what skills our people have and what each job requires so the right person gets the right job.
If my soldier wants to work part-time, how will they go about it?
The first place to start is to talk to their line manager and have a read of the JSP 750 policy document which has details about the different types of flexible service and how to apply.
What will be the financial implications?
Going part-time has lots of implications so it’s best to discuss this with your chain of command after reading the policy. CASTLE isn’t looking at changing any rates of pay, allowances or pensions. We’re exploring how we might encourage people to develop a new skill that the army needs through talent programmes. We’re also asking ourselves what the definition of a specialist is, which sometimes attracts extra pay.
How easy will it be to find out what allowances my soldier is entitled to?
CASTLE can’t claim credit for it but check out the Discover My Benefits page! It asks you a series of questions about your circumstances and then tells you which allowances you’re eligible for – discovermybenefits.mod.gov.uk
Will we still have access to a quarter if my soldier works three days a week?
Working three days a week would put your soldier in the 40 per cent reduction category of part-time working (already in place under Flexible Service) and yes, you would be.
Under CASTLE’s spectrum of service project, your soldier would be able to dial down their level of commitment even further, but we haven’t yet determined what benefits you would be eligible for.
Will my soldier still be entitled to the same leave if they reduce their hours?
If you work less days, you get less leave, but you also need less to take a full week off. Anecdotally, it works out roughly the same, but you must check with the clerk!
Your soldier can access more information on JSP 750, or search ‘Flexible Service’ at gov.uk