The Ministry of Defence wastes up to £94m a year training 16 and 17-year-old army recruits for roles which could be filled more cost-effectively by adults, according to analysis by campaign groups.
The report, by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch, found it costs the MoD twice as much to train a 16-year-old as an 18-year-old. The organisations added that the UK was becoming “increasingly isolated” internationally in continuing to recruit people below the age of 18.
The report found it cost an estimated minimum of £88,985 to train each new soldier aged 16 to 17-and-a-half, compared with £42,818 for each adult. Initial training for minors lasted up to 50 weeks, but enlisting adults could complete the phase one course in 14 weeks. The drop-out rate for minors was 36.6 per cent, compared with 28.3 per cent for adults.
Tory MP and former army officer Patrick Mercer said: “Social conditions, financial conditions and recruiting have all changed and if it now seems that junior entry soldiers are less than cost-effective, the whole issue needs to be looked at.”