TRAINING AND ACCREDITED QUALIFICATIONS
90. We have highlighted the AFOPS's aim of providing
the foundation of a second career for Service personnel. If the
Services are looking for retention incentives, this is clearly
an area which can be developed. The role and structure of the
Armed Forces mean that for the majority of personnel the Services
will not be a whole-life career and they will expect, after varying
lengths of service, to move back to the civilian world. For other
ranks who do not leave at an earlier point, 22 years is the maximum
service career unless they are commissioned or selected for continuance.
It is right that the Services should accept this reality and approach
it in such a way as to encourage people to join the Services as
a good career move and to stay on for a period of time which will
serve the interests of both the individual and the Armed Forces.
However, there is obviously a balance to be struck between using
the incentive of preparation for a second career as a productive
means of attracting and retaining personnel and preventing it
becoming a 'push out' factor where the pay and other benefits
of civilian careers lure people out of the Services too quickly.
91. The first priority of Service training must be
equipping personnel to perform their military functions. A Defence
Training Review was set up by the previous Secretary of State
and began its work in September 1999. It is described as 'a fundamental
and searching review of education and training across the Department
to consider how best it can meet the professional requirements
and personal development needs of our Armed Forces and civilian
staff into the 21st century.'
It is intended that it will report in the spring. The key areas
- the policy framework set by the SDR, including
the need for joint and multinational operations;
- changing social trends and the effects this will
have in producing a different type of young person for the Armed
Forces to train;
- the implications for defence training of the
government's lifelong learning policy;
- the challenges presented by developing technology
and the need for the Armed Forces to operate using modern defence
The review will also look at the amount of training
which personnel receive at different points in their careers and
how this correlates with the competencies needed for their career
progression; the way training is delivered, and whether more training
can be provided through electronic or distance-learning to reduce
time spent away from home on courses.
92. In addition to the specific training which personnel
require to perform and develop their military function, there
is the question of training which encourages personal development
and which prepares individuals for a civilian career when they
leave the Services. The MoD told us that
The need to gain nationally
recognised qualifications is often a cause for personnel to leave
the Services earlier than might otherwise be the case. The Review
will, therefore, seek to ensure that all in-house training can
be validated and accredited to national standards to provide service
personnel with recognised qualifications for when they return
to civilian life.
We have already commented that one of the cultural
changes which make the Services less attractive as a career is
that young people do not wish to be tied into a job for a long
period. The retention strategies of the Services will have to
face up to this realityit provides a complex and sometimes
conflicting set of challenges. This view was echoed by Mr David
Fisher, the Director of the Defence Training Review
.. people do not necessarily
expect to have a job for life, they want to move around more freely
... so that underlines the importance of having marketable skills
... we do see it as our responsibility to train and develop people
so that when they go on to other jobs they have transferable skills.
The opportunity to gain these marketable skills is
a significant recruitment and retention lever for the Services.
But it may also demand a more radical approach to career patterns.
The Director of the Defence Training Review told us that, having
recruited young people, the need then is
... to persuade them that
they have a career which has lots of options, lots of variety,
lots of chances to make themselves better people and that is where
the through-life training and education is so important.
93. The Defence Training Review is therefore looking
at ways to improve accreditation systems so that qualifications
obtained in the Services are more readily transferable to the
civilian sector to ensure that 'every single service person when
they leave the service takes credit into the other workplace for
what they have learned'.
The Head of the Review team was certain that the vast majority
of service training was capable of being accredited in some way.
This was more obviously the case for engineering and technical
skills but more difficult for the traditional combat or 'teeth'
arms which are much more essentially military in nature. The Adjutant
General agreed that the infantry is an area with the least transferable
skills, but even here National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)
have the capacity to recognise leadership and management skills
which many infantry personnel develop and this is being pursued.
94. The Review Team believed that the crucial elements
in taking transferable qualifications forward in the Services
were that it should be done on a defence-wide, rather than a single
Service basis, and that the MoD should use its 'muscle' in this
area to better effect: it is the biggest user of training and
education in the country, with a budget of over £3 billion.
This is an area where the 'overarching' approach to personnel
is likely to be very beneficial. The MoD should therefore
be able to negotiate arrangements with the private sector which
better accommodate the needs of the Services and their personnel.
We hope to see evidence of the MoD using its market position in
training to secure better services more economically in the future.
But private sector training cannot be a direct substitute for
that provided within the Services.
95. Linked to this whole area of personal development
and obtaining marketable qualifications is the Learning Forces
Initiative. The initiative was introduced as part of the Strategic
Defence Review with the intention of introducing 'a range of measures
for the provision of better opportunities for personal development
linked to academic, vocational and professional qualifications'.
The main aims of the initiative are:
- competence in key skills, related to national
- opportunity to gain recognised and transferable
- funding for learning activities during and after
- provision of Personal Development Records
- access to information, advice and modern learning
- returning the individual to the civilian workplace
with 'added value'.
The associated Learning Credits scheme allows personnel
to reclaim up to £175 a year for expenses on educational
self-development. This has resulted in a 34 per cent increase
in take-up of educational opportunities in the Royal Navy and
now involves 2,650 people. In the Army, which started from a very
low base point, take-up has increased by 368 per cent with 2,098
people now pursuing courses. The RAF has always had a high take-up
rate of educational opportunities and 14 per cent of RAF personnel,
7,619 people, are engaged in this scheme.
We believe the Learning Credits scheme should
be more generously funded. We recommend a phased increase in the
sums available up to a target of £500 per person per year.
A significant addition to the Learning Credits scheme is the enhanced
scheme, which makes up to £2,000 a year available to personnel
for three years and continues to be available for ten years after
they have left the Services.
This seems an excellent idea, although the precise details
of how it will work are not yet clear and we look forward to receiving
further information in response to this Report.
96. But the figures about take-up of this scheme
also point once again to the risks of going too far in the direction
of single solutions for all three Services. In general, the RAF
has always provided its people with skills which are highly applicable
to civilian work opportunities. Yet the RAF is attracting some
two-thirds of the funding of this scheme. Here again, the overarching
aims of the strategy need to be weighed against single-Service
specific needs. It is parts of the Army, above all, who
need to be developing this aspect of their trainingand
it must be adequately funded in doing so.
97. During our informal visits, we asked some of
the personnel we met what they thought about the new training
opportunities available to them. Some felt that the range of opportunities
and the money to support these was not sufficiently publicised.
Officers we spoke to welcomed them in principle but felt this
was an area where heavy commitments meant that people are not
encouraged to take up additional educational opportunities if
pursuing them would result in them needing time away from their
posts. The opportunity to work towards further qualifications
would be an incentive to stay in the Services, but a sympathetic
attitude from commanding officers is necessary: there was a strong
feeling that continuous professional development should be part
of the working day and that personnel should not be expected to
do it all in their free time. Other ranks had similar views: that
the opportunity to gain qualifications such as NVQs was one of
the good things about Service life, but that manning shortages
and operational deployments impacted on opportunities to do this.
98. Today's employment market is one with increasing
emphasis on qualifications, and young people and their parents
are well aware of the need to follow a path which will provide
the best opportunity for career development. This is evidenced
by the much greater numbers of young people opting for tertiary
education: 68 per cent in 1999 compared with 45 per cent in 1980.
The Armed Forces have to move with this trend and offer personal
development and the opportunity to obtain marketable skills both
to attract the right calibre of young people into the Services
and to retain them for a reasonable period of time. We hope
that the findings of the Defence Training Review will fully recognise
the value of transferable qualifications and that it will recommend
appropriate changes in Armed Forces training and career patterns
to reflect this. The funds available should be focused on those
personnel whose military jobs do not automatically provide valuable
civilian qualifications. Commanding officers must accept such
training as part of a Service man or woman's career and not simply
an add-on which they can undertake in their free time.
99. Good training is a recruitment incentivebut
it will be by convincing people that the longer they stay in the
Services the better trained they will be that retention can be
improved. The Services all have some way to go yet before they
approach to the best available in the private (and public) sectors
in terms of creating a genuine lifelong learning environment,
in which self-development is an integral part of manpower resource