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Recruiting STEM Graduates into Defence

Volume 656: debated on Monday 11 March 2019

The Ministry of Defence is strongly committed to recruiting and developing the brightest and best young people it can to support our armed forces and wider defence requirements. In an increasingly complex and technologically driven world, the need for talented individuals with a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills has never been greater. They will be central to developing, maintaining and exploiting our current and future military capabilities, to help defence stay at the leading edge of technological change. Through their contribution to innovation and experimentation, to harness new technologies, we will be better prepared to meet the challenges and threats of today and tomorrow.

Defence has been reviewing its STEM graduate requirement and will put in place a new, targeted scheme to recruit undergraduates in related subjects; the STEM graduate inflow scheme (SGIS). This scheme has been designed to significantly increase the number of STEM graduates brought into defence and the variety of STEM disciplines they are from. It will be open to undergraduates across all UK universities and be supported by a competitive financial package. The new scheme will also be more flexible and enable defence to adapt quickly to future changes in requirement.

The new scheme will replace the current defence technical officer and engineer entry scheme (DTOEES), which has produced some excellent young graduates but is not meeting defence’s requirements or providing sufficient value for money. Ending the current scheme will also mean that the Defence Sixth Form College (DSFC) at Welbeck will close, with a final intake in September 2019. The DSFC was set up in 2005, providing STEM focused education opportunities for 16 to 18-year-olds prior to going up to university as defence bursars. But defence needs to increase numbers well beyond the current scheme’s ability to deliver, and it needs to be more responsive and agile to succeed in an increasingly competitive market for STEM graduates in the UK and globally.

Full transition to the new scheme will take place incrementally over the next five years, during which the current intake of students will be fully supported. For the final two years Welbeck remains a going concern. That time will be used productively to work with local authorities and stakeholders to seek the best possible future use of this impressive school, including within the education sector or an alternative use within defence.