Redundant soldiers turning up to the Jobcentre will be met by a new recruitment campaign – to join the Army.
The British Army will aim to attract thousands of new soldiers from the ranks of the unemployed with a series of recruitment clinics across the West starting this week.
The drive comes as new figures reveal the West's economy is "flatlining" as the rest of the UK catches up with the region.
The soldier clinics are part of a drive by the Army to boost recruitment from the unemployed after research revealed those without a job are half as likely to consider a job in the Army as those with a job. Just one in 20 unemployed people said they would consider the Army, compared with one in ten employed people, according to research by One Poll.
In the past year, the Army has sent redundancy letters to thousands of troops, with the aim of cutting the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while at the same time boosting the numbers of part-time soldiers from 19,000 to 30,000 in a rebranded "Army Reserve" replacing the Territorial Army.
But military chiefs said the Army still needed new young soldiers as part of the natural turnover of troops – hence the recruitment campaign. The campaign, called "More than Meets the Eye", highlights range of full and part-time careers available for drivers, engineers, vets, bricklayers and nurses, as well as infantrymen. "Regardless of their skills or background, young people who are interested in taking on a challenging and exciting new career should look at the hundreds of opportunities we have across the Army and Army Reserve," said Brigadier Andrew Jackson.
"We want to do as much as we can to encourage potential recruits to come forward and find out more. There's so much more to learn in the Army and Army Reserve than combat and military skills, and we're always recruiting."
New figures also show the West's position at the forefront of the British economy's recovery is slipping.
In 2008, at the start of the downturn, the West's employment rate was 76.5 per cent, more than four per cent higher than the rest of Britain. Now that "lead" has slipped to just 2.6 per cent, with 74.4 per cent employed in the West, compared to 71.8 per cent in the rest of the UK.
Regional TUC boss Nigel Costley said the likelihood of being in work has fallen faster in the West than anywhere in England in the last five years.
"The South West is flatlining," he said.
"The welcome signs of growth are masking the fact that the South West economy is not performing as well as the rest of the UK in job terms. The region has had a good record for employment levels even though pay is low.
"But the last five years of recession and stagnation have hit job prospects in the South West more than anywhere else in England," he added.