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Junior Soldiers stride towards new careers

17 August 2017

The Army Foundation College in Harrogate saw over 650 teenagers march on their way to a new career when they graduated from the Army’s flagship training establishment for 16 – 17 year olds.

The college in Penny Pot Lane, Harrogate runs two types of course – a 42-week long course and a shorter 22-week course both of which train junior soldiers destined for a wide variety of Army careers.

The Junior Soldiers on the longer 42-week course marched off the square to the second phase of their training in the Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Armoured Corps and Royal Logistic Corps.

While a company of Junior Soldiers on the shorter 22-week course, designed for other cap badges, headed for the longer more specialist phase of their training which could include becoming a vehicle mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer or a communications systems operator with the Royal Signals. The courses both provide a unique combination of military basic training and vocational training to the Junior Soldiers. The graduation parade at Uniacke Barracks was the finale and thousands of relatives and friends watched the Junior Soldiers pass off the square.

Some of the Junior Soldiers of Cambrai company, who have undertaken the 22-week course, will have had the opportunity to achieve a City and Guilds apprenticeship for Information Technology users at Level 2, incorporating Functional Skills.

While the Junior Soldiers from Alamein, Burma and Peninsula Companies on the longer course will have been able to gain Non-Vocational Qualifications such as English, Maths and ICT as well as driver theory training. Many have also achieved a Duke of Edinburgh award.

Lieutenant Colonel William Strickland OBE, the College’s Commanding Officer said: “Eleven months ago the men and women of Alamein, Burma and Peninsula Companies embarked upon this journey and they were joined 6 months ago by Cambrai Company.

“It has been long and hard, and sometimes emotional. I congratulate all of the Junior Soldiers and their instructors on a job very well done. The majority proved equal to the test, and they are the future of the British Army. We are proud of their achievements and we are looking forward to their bright futures.”

Lieutenant General James Bashall CBE, the Inspecting Officer, inspected the Junior Soldiers, presented prizes and took the salute as the military parade marched past the dais and said: “It is a great privilege to be invited to take the Salute at Army Foundation College in Harrogate and to be able to congratulate over 650 newly trained Soldiers on their transition to the British Army. Joining the British Army is a huge decision in an individual’s life, especially for those who are as young as 16 when they decide to join, and it takes dedication, commitment and effort to be successful enough to reach the end of Phase One training. The journey in the British Army has now begun and I wish them all every success in the future careers which lie ahead of them.”

Junior Soldiers work on their leadership and team skills as part of the College’s personal and team development package. They have undertaken a number of adventurous training activities, as well as physical and mental challenges, culminating in a 30-hour challenge patrol across the Yorkshire Dales.  The students have also had the opportunity to sample a wide variety of sports promoting fitness and agility.

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