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Residential military course provides social return on investment

The residential Military and Public Services (MaPS) course at Bicton College’s military academy in Devon has been evaluated by Skills for Armed Forces. 

The academy launched in September 2012 in consultation with Commando Training Centre Royal Marines to help introduce potential recruits the rigours of military life.

The college hopes to reduce the forces’ significant drop-out rates of recruits during initial training, and aid the recruitment of full-time and reservist staff. Highly-trained, teacher-qualified ex-military staff aim to help develop students’ self-esteem, independence, maturity, and leadership qualities – for use in and out of the military.

The study, which focused on the academy’s Level 2/3 course attended by 28 students, found that for every &pound1 invested in the course by the college, the attendees themselves and their parents or guardians, &pound2.59 was returned in social value.

In total, &pound172,680 was invested in the course by the three stakeholders. The students’ input was based on what they would have earned if they had continued working rather than joining the course, parents’ contributions included  paying for accommodation, lunch fees, clothing and any additional qualifications, while the college covered the set-up fees and equipment needed.

Using the Social Return on Investment Framework, it was deemed that the course, which had a 100% pass rate, with all participants remaining in education or moving onto employment, resulted in changes to participants with an overall social value of &pound447,842.66.

The changes were assessed based on surveys completed before, during and after the course, diaries written by the students and interviews with staff at the academy and students’ parents. The course resulted in higher confidence levels, higher levels of ambition, students becoming more employable with increased earning potential and enhanced relationships.

It was also noted that the students had better physical health, better life skills, and a better understanding of personal finance issues as well as being more independent.

After the course, students noted that they were & lsquo;much better’ at tasks such as washing clothes, ironing and cleaning.

Of the 28 students, six went on to secure direct employment in the Armed Forces upon completion of the course, while others continued in their studies towards their chosen careers.

MaPS courses aim to prepare students for the rigorous entry process used by the military thereby reducing recruitment costs. Students complete a BTEC in uniform public services at Level 2 or 3 and also gain Functional Skills qualifications in Maths, English and ICT to Levels 1 and 2. The course also includes a number of practical elements including physical training, weapon training, map reading, survival skills and communications training as part of a Level 1 military preparation qualification.

Additional employability courses such as lifesaving and first aid also led to learners obtaining their first ever part-time jobs in the summer months.

The study’s findings will be used by the college to improve its offering, enabling young people make more informed and successful transitions into the forces and into other careers.

The College will be hosting an event on 5 June 2014 designed to provide useful information and advice for further education organisations interested developing and implementing a Military Academy within their organisation. For further details about this event contact

To find out more about how Skills for Armed Forces helps employers and employees, visit


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