(2) what his assessment is of the effectiveness of the recruitment drive aimed at young Muslims in Nuneaton on 4 and 5 November 2006.
[holding answers 22 January 2007]: To date, there have been no firm expressions of interest to join the Army as a result of the Look at Life (LAL) event run at Gamecock Barracks for youngsters from the Ahmadiyyan Muslim community. The primary purpose of the event sought to raise awareness of the Army and its place in society.
The LAL course was well received. The course was developed as part of the Army’s ongoing ‘Diversity Thread’ programme, which seeks to engage with key influencers and the target audience (16 to 33 years old for the Regular Army and 18 to 34 for the Territorial Army). This entails raising awareness of the Army and its place in society, building interest in the Army, its careers, and its values and standards, all with the intention of potentially securing commitment to join or simply to support the ideals of the service.
In this financial year over 1,000 young people from ethnic backgrounds have applied to join the Army as regular soldiers; with over 300 enlisting since 1 April 2006. This is very encouraging and represents an increase of 6 per cent. compared to the same period last year. Over 70 young people from ethnic backgrounds have applied to join the Army as officers—an increase of 70 per cent. over the same period last year—with 23 passing the Army Officer Selection Board—an increase of 109 per cent. over the same period last year.
While the growth in young people from ethnic backgrounds seeking to join the Army is modest, the annual increase is steady. For the current recruiting year, the Army is looking to recruit 4.1 per cent. of its intake from ethnic minority communities.