Government seeks to curb interest in civilian service

In 2017, 40.4% of people admitted to civilian service submitted their application at the end of their army recruit school. Keystone
This content was published on February 20, 2019 - 16:56

Following several months of consultations, the government is supporting eight measures intended to substantially curb departures from the military to pursue civilian service.

From 2011 to 2017, the number of civilian service admissions has continued to rise. In 2018 alone, there were 6,205 civilian service admissions recorded, including 2,264 military personnel who have completed recruitment school  and 350 officers and non-commissioned officers.

According to the government, the numbers are too high, and measures are needed to ensure the sustainability of the army's personnel. The attractiveness of civilian service is one of the factors that influence the size of the army.

The government not only wants to make civilian service less attractive to young people who choose civilian service over military service, but also to those who decide after army recruit school to stop doing military service and instead, choose to go into civilian service. In 2017, 40.4% of people admitted to civilian service submitted their application at the end of their army recruit school.

On Wednesday, the government sent eight measures to parliament. This includes measures to eliminate the possibility of foreign assignments for civilian service, increase the number of days of civilian service, and restrict the type of service than can be completed.

Building on previous measures

This is not the first time the government has called for a rethink on national conscription prompted by the surge in people wanting to join the Swiss civilian service.

Entry requirements to the civilian alternative to military service were relaxed in April 2009. Conscientious objectors are also no longer required to undergo written and oral assessments by a committee to explain their motives.

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