Recruiting British soldiers at 16 isn’t just morally wrong. It’s bad economics

The Ministry of Defence wastes £94 million every year training minors for army roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adult recruits, says a new report launched today by human rights groups Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch.

Britain is the only country in the EU, the Council of Europe or among the UN Security Council Permanent Membership to recruit sixteen year olds into the military. They may not drink in a Pub, smoke, or vote in General Elections. They cannot have commercial contracts enforced against them. They may not join the Fire Service, but they can join the British Army and on their eighteenth birthday risk being killed in combat. 

Recruitment at 16 is a scandal. Wars in Kosovo, Iraq and now twelve years of armed conflict in Afghanistan make the danger of being killed in battle an every day reality from the day a young recruit turns 18.   

The moral case against recruitment of sixteen year olds is compelling. Eighteen is the age of legal responsibility. Those below that age are considered too young to make decisions that may lead to putting their own lives or those of others at risk. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has criticised the recruitment of minors.… Read more

Army recruitment at 16 ‘should stop’

The “outdated” practice of recruiting 16-year-olds into the Army is wasting up to £94m a year and should stop, two human rights groups have said.

The “outdated” practice of recruiting 16-year-olds into the Army is wasting up to £94m a year and should stop, two human rights groups have said.

Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch claim it costs the Ministry of Defence (MoD) twice as much to train a 16-year-old as it does an adult.

That is due to longer training and a higher drop-out rate, they say.

The MoD said it did not recognise figures in the report and it “ignores the benefits” for young people.

Using figures presented to Parliament in 2011, the report said it cost an “estimated” £88,985 to recruit, train and pay new soldiers aged 16 and 17, compared with £42,818 for each adult recruit.

It said initial training for under-18s lasted either 23 or 50 weeks, depending on their chosen trade and where they were trained, whereas adult training takes 14 weeks.

The calculations included £10,000 to recruit each person, irrespective of age. The other costs covered training, accommodation, meals, welfare, health, salary and other support per Army recruit in 2010-11.

Army personnel can be deployed once they turn 18 – which the two groups said meant that “at any one time, approximately 150 soldiers are fully trained but too young to be deployed.”

They added that it costs approximately £2.65m to pay the salaries of these un-soldiers, which it said were each paid a salary of £17,690.… Read more

Millions ‘wasted’ on junior army recruits, report claims

Tens of millions of pounds is wasted on training young soldiers for roles that could be filled more cost effectively by adults, a report has found.

Military chiefs are spending up to £94 million on training young recruits, campaigners claimed.

Researchers found it costs the Ministry of Defence twice as much to train a 16-year-old as an 18-year-old.

The Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch joint report, added that Britain was becoming “increasingly isolated” in continuing to enlist personnel below the voting age the armed forces.

The report found it cost an estimated minimum of £88,985 to recruit and train each new soldier aged 16 to 17-and-a-half, compared with £42,818 for each adult recruit, including salary costs.

Initial training for minors lasted either 23 or 50 weeks, depending on the recruit’s trade, but enlisting adults could complete the phase one course in 14 weeks.

The drop-out rate for minors more than a third compared to fewer than three in 10 for adults.

But under-18s who complete training are likely to serve for 10 years rather than the 7.6-year average for over-18s, it added.

As a result, the report finds the taxpayer would have saved up to £94 million a year had only adults enlisted, based on recruiting for a nominal 10-year career and accounting for differing trainee drop-out rates and average career lengths.

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Army recruitment of under-18s wastes £94 million every year, claims new report

The Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94 million every year training minors for army roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adult recruits, according to a new report launched today by human rights groups Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch.

PRESS RELEASE

ARMY RECRUITMENT OF UNDER-18s WASTES £94 MILLION EVERY YEAR, CLAIMS NEW REPORT
Huge cost of ‘out of date’ recruitment of minors

The Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94 million every year training minors for army roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adult recruits, according to a new report launched today by human rights groups Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch.

It costs the MoD twice as much to train a recruit at age 16 as it does at 18, says the report, due to the longer training for minors and their higher drop-out rate.  Using MoD figures, One Step Forward: The case for ending recruitment of minors by the British armed forces found that, in 2010-11:

  •     It cost an estimated minimum of £88,985 to recruit and train each new soldier aged 16-17½, compared with £42,818 for each adult recruit (includes salary costs). (1)
  •     The taxpayer would have saved an estimated £81.5 million – £94 million had only adults been recruited.
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