In two minds about this. On one hand I agree with Ashford Old School on his point and also think that at 16/17 a lot (not all, before someone jumps down my throat) of kids don't really know what they want and joining the Army can seem really glamorous (to be fair, I know a 22 year old who joined the Army because of that and is now regretting it). Desperation to get away from a bad home life can also play a part and some parents can be just as desperate to get rid of their child, hence getting the requisite parental consent, and sometimes parental coercion/bullying a child to join up. I've known many a lad join because "It's what his father did and he wants me to follow in his footsteps/it's family tradition" - almost akin to Catholic families giving up one son to the priesthood!
On the other hand, it can be a very good thing, precisely for one of the arguments against. If it gives a young one an escape from a bad home life, surely that's a good thing? Apprenticeships teaching a good trade where you know you're not going to get binned off a week before you qualify because the gaffer doesn't want to pay more than apprentice wages give lads (and lasses) a better working start and chance in life than they'd possibly get elsewhere.
Perhaps one answer would be to modify the apprenticeship programme. Kids can go to the apprentice colleges but on a similar basis to the way the Forces sponsor university students. They attend residentially, but as civvies, potential recruits, if you will. Give them a uniform but no military training until they are 17 1/2. Attendance at the college is free on the understanding that following passing the course they commit to either 3 years service or repay the course fees.
I joined at 16 and did 12 weeks basic, not junior entry to Arborfield.
It's a stupid idea thought up by people who can't tell the difference between a 'child soldier' joining the British Army and some ten year old being forced to machete his own family to death in the Congo.
The report comes out every year; you'll find multiple threads on it on Arrse. My views:
The scheme is one of the last channels of social mobility for bright and reasonably fit youngsters from all strata of society. The tricky bit for the staff is balancing the military angle with the duty of care in loco parentis. They generally get this right.
The drop-out rate is fairly high, so it's expensive, but the ones that do pass out, tend to serve longer and get promoted more quickly, so the whole-life cost-benefit equation is more nuanced. On balance, I think it's a good thing for the individuals, the Army and society in the round.
Just read this on Al JaBeeba site... And it put my grumpy git head on...
Sod it hidden agenda, let's cut the crap... These"campaigners" are probably - on every issue- anti miltary and it's just another line of attack.
(stomps off demanding where coffee is)
I joined junior Infantry at 15, from a small village in Fife, and it certainly opened my eyes, especially the glassgow weegies who believed they were the hardest kids on the block. Lots of bullying, but if you stuck up for yourself, they left you alone. Not much time off to do things as bullshit baffled brains.
Never once did I think of leaving, it was a hard tough life, but enjoyable. Not sure if the kids of today at 15 could hack it. Out of 60 who joined the same day approx 20 passed out.
Shit myself when I joined the battalion, but once again soon became part of the group, by listening and learning.
Well, I listened to the drippy twat from some lobbying organisation yapping on the radio before coming to work. He annoyed me. Perhaps the BBC ought to interview some Arrsers because the "against" arguments are much more sensible on here! Must say, I'm in two minds about it myself now - but only because 16 year olds now appear to be utterly incapable of mental or physical robustness. And before slating me as a grumbling old twat, think about the hysterical use of the term bullying. I've done a fair bit with junior and young soldiers and rarely encountered what I would call bullying - and we were on it PDQ when spotted. There was a lot of banter, some of it robust and just the sort of activity the drippy twats would leap on top of as institutional bullying, which it isn't.
But if youngsters are incapable of handling such stuff, I'm afraid we're wasting our time. I can't tell you the number of times I bashed my head against a brick wall as a promising youngster resolutely insisted to returning to some God awful estate and very dodgy personal circumstances, all because they were feeling a bit hacked off with life that evening.
I note that the MOD response was "we don't recognise the figures" used in the report. No doubt we have our own cunning stats but I do wish we could avoid arguing the point on spurious numbers.
Apprentiships appear to work pretty well - so it must be the nasty infantry's fault.
I joined the RN at 15 in the days of Ganges, certainly never witnessed any bullying and the pass out rate was 100%. We didn't do the type of physical stuff young soldiers have to do, so no injuries. But it was the start of a long career for most of us. I know over half of the class I was in, served at least 25 years. Certainly the mob did well out of it as did the individual.
I was an apprentice, started Trg 1 month after I turned 17. I began with a gobshite attitude and passed out still as a gobshite, but with a better attitude.
It will be 17 years this Sept, of those I joined with, the ranks now range from WO1 to Sgt and a few have commissioned (not LE); a lot left after serving a few years, but I don't think many, if any at all, would regret joining as a JS.