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Armed Forces: Recruitment

Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what targets his Department sets for the skills mix of new recruits to the armed forces; (122759)

(2) pursuant to the answer of 2 February 2007, Official Report, column 551W, on recruitment, what (a) level of education and (b) qualifications had been achieved by recruits to the armed forces.

All potential OR recruits have to pass a basic entry test; Naval Service applicants sit the Recruit Test (RT); Army applicants the British Army Recruit Battery (BARB) Test; RAF applicants the Airman Selection Test (AST). This test provides an objective and reliable assessment of the potential recruit’s intellectual capability and aptitude to succeed in trade training. In addition:

RN: Formal educational qualifications are required in some specialised branches, i.e.: Communications Technicians, (minimum two GCSEs, including Maths and English); Dental Surgery Asst (two GCSEs, including English + preferably Science); Naval Nurse (Student), (three GCSEs, including Maths, English + a Science or equivalent and 200 (UCAS) points). All applicants must achieve Basic Skills Level 2 including the English Speaking and Listening assessment.

Army: An applicant’s eligibility to qualify for a particular form of training is determined by results achieved in the BARB. Failure to achieve the minimum standard will result in the applicant being ineligible. Basic Skills test were re-introduced in April 2006—applicants are required to achieve a minimum of Entry Level 2 (along with an English Speaking and Listening Test). A number of trades require GCSEs which vary in subjects and grades.

RAF: In accordance with the new national standard, the RAF have decided to introduce for all trades a minimum entry requirement of a level 1 qualification (or equivalent) in adult literacy and numeracy. The change will apply to those seeking to enter service on or after 1 April 2007. In general the minimum requirement for potential officer recruits is five GCSE passes (or equivalent) of which English and Maths are mandatory, plus two ‘A’ Level passes at Grade E or above (or equivalent in UCAS Tariff points). For lateral officer entry, for example trained nurses, the potential recruit must have achieved the appropriate qualifications such as a degree or diploma in nursing.

The armed forces do not have specific skills mix targets for recruits. The results of the basic entry tests determine the branches/trade(s) for which new recruits are eligible.