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RAF recruitment statistics

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RAF recruitment statistics

Old 16th Dec 2020, 13:03
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RAF recruitment statistics

An interesting article in the Daily Telegraph today today concerning the success of applicants from different backgrounds. Interesting in that the information had to be prised out of the military hands after 5 months of refusal to publish. Interesting because the RAF has a BAME Network (and spokesperson). Interesting that there were so few applicants from minority backgrounds, any change in low numbers can of course exaggerate the impression of what appear to be large percentage changes.

An RAF spokesman said: ďThe RAF has a proud history of offering opportunities to anyone who has the ability to serve, no matter their background. Aptitude tests are designed to assess a candidatesí potential for the job they are applying for, with professional analysis confirming they are not biased.
Whatever happened to the mould breaking 'Grammar School Boys'?

Does the Military have to reflect the society it serves? If so what place do the Gurkhas have in the Army? (or the Foreign Legion in France for that matter)
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 13:14
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I found it interesting that the total numbers of people applying to join was around the 8K mark.

It's not the career choice it used to be.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 13:57
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So what WERE the "interesting statistics" - pray enlighten us...................
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 15:47
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I am a former RAF Officer and in a past life was a navigator on the Tornado GR1/1A/4, with a bit of time on the Buccaneer and Phantom. The world has changed since then and there is an enormous rush to be politically correct and ensure no one feels left out. Regarding recruitment, you can take the example of the Israelis where they overtly state, 'Only the best for the cockpit'. Life has taught them hard lessons that you need the absolute creme de la creme flying any aircraft, but particularly fast jets. Their air-to-air results speak for themselves. They start screening future pilots at age 8, look again at age 12 and by age 18 the survivors of that process are in a vicious competition for a rare spot in pilot training. Only the best of the best succeed. Then we come to the UK where we are faced with 2 possible ways of recruiting. Option 1 - Regardless of the demographic, you only take the best and do not care if that does not reflect the population at large. Option 2 - Make the flying community look like the rest of the UK, where 80 per cent of the population are white British, 6.8% are Asian(Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, others), black groups make up 3.4% and the rest are a melting pot of Chinese, Arab etc. Then you have to ensure a certain percentage of women, LGBTQ+ etc lest anyone feel let down. That is all very nice, but we have to ask the question of what we want from those who are tasked with taking on the best of other nations - do we want someone there because they reflect society or because they will beat the best of other nations? I would humbly suggest that we take the best of the best (black, white, men, women etc) and let anyone be offended who feels they should be. In the meantime, just ensure we have the very best people in our cockpits that our recruitment system could find - our future enemies are absolutely cast-iron guaranteed to have done the same thing, and will be absolutely delighted we did not.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 16:45
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I was taught in primary school (mid 1960's) that the 'Old Lady on the Bailey' wears a blindfold and holds the scales as justice must be blind to appearance and must weight the evidence objectively.

So it should be with assessing, selecting and training mililtary personnel for defence of the Realm.

If they stopped recording ethnicity we wouldn't have the issue. British citizen is all we need confirmation of. After that selection should only be on merit.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 16:45
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Count,

I absolutely would not disagree with you that "the best of the best" (or more accurately, the best of the people we persuade to apply) should be in the cockpit, and no one is suggesting quotas based on population make-up. However, unless you believe that some part of the population is likely to be better at flying, the fact that your recruited population does not match the make-up of your overall population implies something.

It might imply that your recruiting efforts are poorly targeted, it might imply that your selection process is inherently biased or it might imply that something further up-stream (education for example) is out of whack. If it's the latter (and the RAF clearly believe that in this case based on the article) you have two choices - keep a system that doesn't take this into account or attempt to develop a system that will select based on inherent ability regardless of educational background to that point.

The best explanation I've ever seen of this was a big brother and a little brother watching a sports match over a fence with equally sized stools - "equal opportunity" is equal opportunity to see the match, not the same sized stool.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 17:06
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pba_target - this is a really difficult issue and there is no easy answer, but I personally am not into quotas. I now am a senior training captain flying Airbuses (long story, but that's for another day). We have all the same arguments about recruitment. My company wanted to get a higher percentage of women (industry average is 5% - we wanted to raise that to 12%). Why not 50/50 you may ask? The answer is that there are not enough women sufficiently interested in flying and who have the aptitude to do that. Before you all jump down my throat, this is a way harder problem to deal with than you may imagine. Our female pilots are great - no issues whatsoever with that. There were, however, way less of them available to recruit than of their male equivalents. Why? There are a whole host of reasons and the same would apply to pilots from black/Caribbean backgrounds - these groups of people (particularly young men interestingly) often just do not get to the point that they can apply. The reasons really are nothing to do with flying but rather to do with culture. Many young black men fall out the education system way earlier than their female equivalents. There are a whole host of reasons - single parent families, peer pressure to join gangs, lack of father figures (way more likely to be from single parent homes) etc. With women, I think probably more men naturally want to do the job, but also many women are not made aware of these opportunities in childhood when so many ambitions are formed. These are generalisations, but if these folks were there to recruit we would have gobbled them up - they just do not get to that stage. Also, many women do not want to work weird hours due to family commitments (women are way more likely to be the main carer for children than men are). Sadly, despite having a lot of women pilots now, we only have a handful of female training captains. Again, that is to do with women being off having children at the critical times of life when people are racing up the career ladder. I used to knock all this stuff and felt women should just stop whinging and just 'be in it to win it' - that was very much the attitude when I was in the RAF! I am ashamed of that attitude now, as I now recognise with a dwindling population we must facilitate women being able to have careers and have children - we need the next generation.

Regarding some part of the population being better at flying, we are not really talking differences between black people and white people, but educated people are more likely to succeed at it than those who are not. For the reasons above, some demographic groups simply never get to the stage where they reach higher education in large numbers and therefore form part of the future flying gene pool. The reasons for this are largely societal and are very difficult to tackle. Nonetheless, the answer cannot be to lower standards of recruitment to accommodate that, but to rather increase educational standards to get these 'forgotten' groups available for selection. That is way easier said than done, frankly.
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Old 16th Dec 2020, 19:53
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Totally and utterly agree, we seem to have gone down this route in the U.K. where there is an over zealous drive to recruit from minorities, disabilities, religious and sexes etc etc without simply recruiting the best of the best, you sometimes wonder if people are recruited to some posts not on merit, but to simply fill some PC agenda, and that is not only doing a disservice to those highly qualified and motivated individuals passed over to satisfy this requirement, but also reduces the quality and professionalism within the individual companies / establishments.
The only way you will ever reverse that is to ensure better education and a change in the culture we appear to have where there are no winners in life.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 00:08
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I was taught in primary school (mid 1960's) that the 'Old Lady on the Bailey' wears a blindfold ...
Actually she doesn't - look it up. A popular misconception. Seems like education in the 60s wasn't all it's cracked up to be
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 02:58
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One of the ironic aspects of the new recruiting standards is the education requirement. Chuck Yeager joined the Army Air Force as a private with a high school diploma. He would be completely ineligible for pilot training in today’s USAF

The sad reality in almost all Western Air Forces is that they are not looking to recruit good pilots, they are looking to recruit “future senior leaders” which is bureaucratic speak for pliable politically attuned managers.

Israel is the exemption because they have an existential threat around them, This concentrates the minds of senior IAF leadership and defence politicians in a way that is unimaginable in Canada, UK, US etc etc
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 03:16
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Equality of Opportunity

I think large organisations are absolutely correct to attempt to target all demographics. I do, however, worry that overtly targeted recruitment will alienate the core groups who fill the rank and file.

For instance, Army recruitment adverts aimed at women are a great idea but if you disenfranchise the young males who traditionally look to the Army you will have a major problem on your hands.

The bottom line, in my humble opinion, is that an organisation should just be able to prove that it offers equality of opportunity. It should also show that it has made every effort to target recruitment at a wide variety (yes, even white males!) of demographics.

If that organisation is then seen to lack diversity they can at least prove that they put in the required effort. If there are then not enough women/trans/black/Asian/Sikh/Muslim etc then why should these numbers be used as a stick to beat an organisation with?

I 100% agree that the Armed Forces should recruit from all walks of life and that everyone should receive fair treatment once they join.

I just donít think that numerical targets are the way to achieve that.

I have two sons and a daughter (they are all white). If in future my daughter, for instance, were to make it as a FJ pilot I would hate for people to look at her and say she only got there because sheís female. If she were to achieve that it should be on merit alone.

That is the flip side of the whole argument. If you positively discriminate then those recipients will forever be tainted and that is grossly unfair as well.

With all of the above in mind I thank my lucky stars I am not in charge and not responsible for such policies and decisions. It must be an absolutely thankless task.

BV

Last edited by Bob Viking; 17th Dec 2020 at 05:29.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 03:58
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I saw a job advertisement for the local airforce last week, as such...

"Aircraft Fabricator (Female Opportunity)"

Is this discrimination?
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 05:45
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RG

Of course it is. And we both know the country involved.

If it is a job that can be done equally by all genders then it should be advertised as such.

BV
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 06:33
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If particular minority groups are under represented because they have a reluctance to break out of their cultural 'silo' is it not reasonable to target them to reinforce the idea that they are welcome to participate (provided they have the requisite skills)?

​Does it not become a problem when the military (or police) become viewed as unrepresentative of the society they are there to defend? Or is targeted recruitment divisive?
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 07:02
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Beardy

In my view the most valuable bit of research in this field would be if someone were to ask the minority groups or demographics if it bothers them that they are under-represented.

After all, we the people seem to feel that diversity is vital but if the targeted groups donít care that there arenít many BAME members of the Armed Forces, for example, or enough female aircraft mechanics then is it worth the effort?

As Iíve said previously, as long as people know there is equality of opportunity does it really matter what the statistics say?

If we take it to the extremes and look at UKSF (assuming that one day the tokenism opened up to women) there are very few men that are capable of making the grade. Letís say 1:10,000. There are likely fewer women that could make the grade, letís say 1:100,000 (made up numbers).

Taking my invented numbers it shows that not only are there few people capable of certain roles but you have to identify and attract those select few.

The UKSF doesnít need to be 50:50 men and women. But everyone needs to know that (should UKSF be opened up to women) men and women are equally welcome.

I wish we could have a government with the balls to stand up to the media to be honest. After all it is their focus on diversity targets and equal opportunities that terrifies the government.

If the government could just say they are committed to offering roles to any suitable candidate regardless of gender or ethnicity and then ignore the interminable figures then maybe we could all find something else to worry about.

I honestly think that until we can stop chasing such targets any BAME or female FJ pilot (for example) or Chief Executive is always going to be looked on by certain members of society as a diversity quota filler. If I were that individual Iíd hate to think my hard work could be trivialised in such a manner.

As a random other example, in 2020 over 80% of players in the NBA (basketball) are black. Has anybody bothered to start a campaign for diversity? Or is it possible that those players are there because they were the best players? Or maybe because not many white boys want to be NBA players. Or maybe African American males are taller on average and therefore better suited (although Google the name Mugsy Bogues to see why this is not a prerequisite) to basketball.

This whole topic is quite fascinating and the debate could go on forever. History could have been very different, for example, if the Vietnam draft or WW2 conscription had been for all genders. It would have been very fair but would it have been effective?

Anyway, enough from me.

BV
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 07:04
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Originally Posted by beardy View Post
If particular minority groups are under represented because they have a reluctance to break out of their cultural 'silo' is it not reasonable to target them to reinforce the idea that they are welcome to participate (provided they have the requisite skills)?

​Does it not become a problem when the military (or police) become viewed as unrepresentative of the society they are there to defend? Or is targeted recruitment divisive?
The RAF is very actively involved in recruitment drives in BAME communities across the UK. Ensuring that BAME communities are aware of the opportunities open to them, the career it can provide and that they are welcome is only right and proper.

Aiming to have a workforce which represents the make up and diversity of the population is laudable and the correct thing to do. However, despite the hard work of the recruiters and the significant money being spent doing this, the numbers of BAME applicants is extremely low.

The RAF has made every effort to open itself to all backgrounds but applicants selected for a role should be on merit alone and not to fill a quota.

Is it a problem if the military are underrepresented, to some yes but this is an educational and cultural issue and certainly not an issue of RAF opening itself to all.

Targeted recruitment is not necessarily decisive but targeted selection most definitely would be.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 07:33
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Originally Posted by Tankertrashnav View Post
Actually she doesn't - look it up. A popular misconception. Seems like education in the 60s wasn't all it's cracked up to be


Looking forward to being asked that in a quiz night,,, now that I know the answer :-)
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 08:45
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Will we see the same amount of trades available to the younger generation wanting to join the RAF. Or will these just vanish with the onset of space age technology looming up in the near distant future?
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:17
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Originally Posted by Boeing Jet View Post
Will we see the same amount of trades available to the younger generation wanting to join the RAF. Or will these just vanish with the onset of space age technology looming up in the near distant future?

We don't now, lots of trades since I served have gone, Carpenters, Painters and Finishers etc, times move on with technology.
In WW1 the RAF/RFC would have been awash with Blacksmiths and Carpenters, today it's not worth training the small numbers you would require, so any work will be tendered out. There might be the odd Farrier left in some of the household regiments though.
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Old 17th Dec 2020, 09:27
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I imagine that a problem could arise when, because of under representation, a or a coalition of minority groups feel that the organs of state do not work for them, and may be working against them. Or they may simply feel disenfranchised.

I know that this sounds a bit feely touchy, but of such things are revolts made.
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