Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




attrition, capacity building, culture, retention, systems, training


The Naval Training System (NTS) is the authority for training across the Navy, responsible for trainees until the completion of their on-the-job training (OJT) or ‘apprenticeship’ at sea. An emerging challenge are the rising rates of trainee attrition during OJT. Surveys indicate that trainees are motivated to go to sea, ready to apply their knowledge and skills (NTS, 2016, 2018); however, an increasing number of trainees are opting not to complete their OJT (MP, 2017). With new ships in production and the fleet returned from refit, the modern Navy is facing an unprecedented period of growth and with it, the need for qualified personnel (Defence, 2017a). Some occupations are now considerably under strength, taxing those who remain, while jeopardizing the Navy’s operational capability (MP, 2017). Viewing the problem of early attrition through the lens of critical pragmatism (Forrester, 2013), it is possible to see the strengths and weaknesses of current practices in context, towards solution finding. Incorporating adult learning principles (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2015) through organized and effective socialization processes (Saks & Gruman, 2018), the Navy might inspire the commitment necessary to reverse this trend. As Naval leadership is exercised through strict adherence to order and discipline upheld through customs, traditions, and culture (Defence, 2017a), transformational (Bass & Riggio, 2006) and distributed (Harris, 2014) leadership approaches are utilized. The proposed, multilayered solution includes changes to policy and the requirement for staff capacity building to support a system-wide response, as well as the embarkation of training specialists to aid with implementing change. Devised using Cawsey, Deszca, and Ingols’ (2016) Change Path Model, this plan addresses the need for an amendment to OJT traditions in order to safeguard the Navy’s future.

Available for download on Friday, September 30, 2022