18-19 year old cadets?

What do people think of those who are 18+ and still a cadet?
What if they joined late and never had the opportunity to go on a course? Is it frowned apon to be this age and a cadet? Loads of people seem to take the mick out of those that are older and not a high rank. Besides some squadrons require you to do a course and be in cadets for at least 2 years so it isn’t their fault if they joined late. Would staff be more inclined to promote late starters?

It depends entirely on the individual to be perfectly honest. I’ve met some awesome 18+ cadets who just aren’t NCO material but still good cadets. I’ve also met some who make you question the sanity of whoever permitted them to stay. As for promoting late starters, I would like to believe promotions are based upon ability, not time served or age.

1 Like

I can remember youngsters going to CIOs at 16 and being directed to join the ATC, while they continue their academics to get some experience and learning.
I don’t really feel the Corps in its current form lends itself particularly to older starters. I’ve had a few in recent years and when their intake is generally 2-3 years younger, you can just see how they don’t really fit in and are 2-3 years behind their peer group and there’s no rushing experience, who the gravitate towards socially.

I feel if they abandoned the admin exercise for staying over 18, with the exception of DBS and Basic, it would be a much more natural fit.

Older starters were never an issue years ago.

I joined a week before my 16th birthday and stayed around for two and a half years until I left for university. I became a Corporal when I was about 17 and a half and stayed in that rank until a week before I left, when I was promoted to Sergeant. Obviously I was never a non-NCO cadet by the time I was 18, but I still feel in a strong enough position to comment.

I think a large part of how successful your short cadet career will be depends on whether you’re comfortable with socialising with cadets younger than yourself, since they will be at the same stage as you. I never found it to be a problem; it was quite clear at times that I was more mature but that never really created any anymosity. Sure you get the odd comment here or there asking why you’re so old and still a First Class cadet, but who cares? Staff never drew attention to it.

I had a great time in the Air Cadets, despite being a late starter. I got to do a lot of shooting which I loved (yet annoyingly terrible at!), became an FSC and completed the BELA and FAW award.

A strong part of it is your outlook on the whole thing.

It always strikes me as odd that an organisation that is struggling to recruit quality staff pay so little attention to investing in cadets aged 18+. Too many people were involved in solving a problem that actually wasn’t there instead of sorting out the real issues that are a threat to the organisation such as reducing opportunities due to the downsizing of the RAF and its estate.

1 Like

Will have to be careful here. But again, agreed OP (That’s twice in two minutes)
On another point as well and it’s kind of reverse logic.
We had two cadets who were nearing 18 and still not NCO’s. When we promoted them, and yes it was a time served thing, they proved to be outstanding NCO’s, one making CWO and the other FS and both going into HM Forces one as an Officer and one as a Sgt Aircrew.
Now, had we not taken “a punt” on them we would never have known this.

We need to invest further with our older cadets and utilise them. Perhaps the odd leap of faith with some of them (I don’t advocate it as the norm) might just show the true potential they have which they haven’t as yet shown. Another thing to remember of course, they are still children in an organisation which may seem quite daunting despite how long they’ve been at a Sqn.

1 Like

When I was a cadet I was a CWO up to my 22nd birthday and still treated as a cadet. I remember being treated like crap by a 23 year old AWO and I was nearly 22 but what could I say? He was classed as an adult and I a cadet.

I joined just after turning 16, and aged out at 20 as a CWO. However, my OC at the time was the type to give people a chance and see how it worked out, which I’ve always been grateful for.

Good on your CO :slight_smile:
Was this in the latest regime of needing to be of worth at 18 to stay on?