'Soldiers will emerge from service with a disposition for learning'

A message from Martin Doel at the Association of Colleges

The Government's recent announcement of new support for the armed forces and their families included an increase in compensation and priority access to social housing for injured personnel as well as a valuable education entitlement – troops with at least six years of service will qualify for free college or university education.

The measures, contained in the summer's Armed Forces Command Paper, mean that Government will pay the tuition fees for army staff taking GCSEs, A-levels, degrees or other courses. (These benefits are in addition to new army bursaries, which will give young people £1,000 a year to study at college, with an additional £1,000 if they complete basic military training.)

At the moment, those serving in the armed forces may have tuition fees fully or partially paid for some courses, and the incentives are meant for retaining personnel. The new package can also be taken after they have left service.

As the former director of training and education at the Ministry of Defence, I have a personal interest in this story – not least because I was part of the team working on the Command Paper. As a citizen I am pleased to see this project reach fruition; it recognises the debt that the nation owes to those who put their lives on the line on our behalf. And from the point of view of the head of the Association of Colleges, there's a third reason to celebrate. Colleges are very well placed to respond to the extra demand that the Command Paper is likely to stimulate. The range of education that they provide, from basic skills courses to degrees, makes them ideal training partners. Colleges across the country, from Greenwich to Gloucester and Newcastle to north-west Kent, already provide pre-entry public services courses for the armed services and others supply post-entry training directly to the MoD.

There's more than one mutual benefit available from a strengthened relationship between colleges and our service personnel. There is a wealth of experience and skills among armed forces instructors, all of whom will hold a certificate in teaching in the lifelong learning sector; they will represent an ideal talent pool for the further education lecturers of the future.

Of course, the skills developed in some posts – such as logistics, vehicle technicians and electrical engineers – are more immediately transferable to civilian life and the job market than others, such as armaments, bomb disposal and photographic interpretation. But all service personnel will have developed generic skills that will be relevant to employers.

Perhaps the most important of these, and one which is reinforced by the Command Paper, is that they will have come from a learning organisation and will be aiming to be lifelong learners. They will emerge from their service with a disposition towards learning and a desire to build on the skills they have learnt in post.

Whatever the rank or former service, colleges are well placed to respond to meet the needs of these talented, able and motivated people.

The author is chief executive of the Association of Colleges

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Foundation Primary Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are looking for Founda...

Psychology Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Psychology An en...

Geography Teacher

£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Physics Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Physics Teacher January 201...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?