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Issue 14 - July 1973
... Or Join The Professionals
Recent statements by A Blenkinsop MP and Ald R Mackley have expressed the claim, and perhaps the hope, that the statistics provided by the Defence Minister show that recruitment to the armed forces is not related to unemployment. We wish to contest this construction. While Mr Blenkinsop has clearly misinterpreted the figures we suspect that Ald Mackley has not even seen them. Neither has provided supporting evidence for their conclusions. Here are the facts.

The statistics supplied by the Minister gave only the regional totals. These showed, naturally, that recruitment is related to population density. We argued that only figures showing recruitment as a proportion of population would have any significance. We have now calculated this proportion and we show below the recruitment per thousand of population for 72-73:

Population Regions
Total Recruits 72/73
Recruits Per 1,000 Population
Northern 3,280 .556
Yorkshire and Humber 3,851 .442
North Western 5,456 .450
East Midland 2,831 .465
West Midland 3,272 .355
East Anglia 1,117 .373
South Eastern 7,894 .254
South Western 3,020 .445
Wales 1,866 .380
Scotland 4,671 .496
Northern Ireland 962 .344

It is clear from the per thousand figures that there is a high recruitment in areas of high unemployment and that our Northern Region has the highest recruitment in the country. With twice the national level of unemployment we have twice the level of recruitment of the prosperous south-east region. (Northern Ireland is a significant exception to this rule.)

Further, if the annual statistics for the Northern Region are considered the connection between recruitment and unemployment is confirmed.


Total recruits in north-east

The peak of recruitment in 71/72 corresponds exactly with the peak of one million unemployed last year.

However, perhaps the most disturbing information disclosed by the Defence Minister is that no less than 1,704 (more than half) of the recruits to the forces from the northern region in 1972-73 were only 16 years of age.

It is this group, least able to form a mature and balanced decision concerning their future which is faced with recruitment publicity in the schools and public propaganda in the press and on TV at a time they are under pressure to find a job.

We now trust that Mr Blenkinsop and Ald Mackley will have the honesty and the courage to admit their original error in assessing the figures and acknowledge that recruitment to the forces does seem to be a measure of the unemployment situation and that the high recruitment level in this area reflects the lack of job opportunities.