The armed forces are trying a different approach to recruitment by setting up a residential college in the North. Esther Leach reports.
A NEW residential Army Foundation College for men and women opens in September in an attempt to boost the quality and number of recruits.
The college is opening amid reports of a recruitment crisis in the armed services and calls from senior military staff for a fresh approach to skills training. It will offer a new route into the Army for 16-year-olds who will be potential soldiers for the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Artillery or the Infantry.
Major Alistair Fyfe, second in command at the Harrogate-based college, said courses would develop leadership and initiative qualities. "It will be an exciting new venture for the Army. Future non-commissioned officers and warrant officers will effectively be born here," he added.
Selection will be based on potential rather than school qualifications and the 42-week course will be broken down into three main areas of training: military, vocational education and leadership and initiative.
It is intended that the college will concentrate on six key skills developed by the former National Council for Vocational Qualifications and SCOTVEC, with students working to at least level 2 qualification in application of numbers, communication skills, information technology, improving learning and performance, working with others and problem solving.
Students will also work towards a National Traineeship by gaining a National (or Scottish) Vocational Qualifications (Level 2) in information technology.
As well, they will work for City and Guilds Level 1 in public service to develop their ability to work as a team member and maintain their personal effectiveness. Other topics will include health and safety and the safe operation of military equipment.
The first term's intake at the former Army Apprentices College is 384 men and women students with a staff of 200, but the college will eventually take up to 1,340 students when it is fully refurbished.
All students who are in training at the college will be paid a weekly wage of at least Pounds 110, but will pay for accommodation and food.
When students complete the foundation course they will move on to training at specialist centres. They will then go on to join their Army units.