LaSER certainly seem to run them, and AFAIK they are mandatory. My wing also makes it mandatory that you move units once you go into uniform. You can’t go CI to Uniform without attending a pre-uniform course, and then agreeing to move units after you go into uniform!
As for the actual content of the LaSER/my Wing course, I’m not 100% sure as I’ve not been on one. I was told a number of years ago that the course was to help you decide if SNCO or Commission would be best for you, and to look at what might be expected of you going down each route. AFAIK they weren’t aimed at being a skills course, but more of an informative thing.
Personally I think it can go each way WRT increasing interest/adding barriers. For my self, I’d know which route to go and I know what would be expected of me. A pre uniform course is just another weekend I’d have to ‘waste’ in the process of going into uniform. However for a brand new CI, it may be very informative, depending on what was actually delivered on said course.
I think these courses should exist to inform people what going into uniform means, what the process is etc etc. I don’t think they should be compulsory however. I think they’d maybe be better run as a combination day/weekend. If run well you could have a pre-application course to see what going into uniform is all about. You could have a pre-CIC type course running. Interview help etc etc. But again, it shouldn’t be compulsory.
I did one as staff cadet in LASER before moving to staff, there mainly about 1- the process and 2- what the differences of each role and what the progression is within them, roles responsibility etc , TBH wasn’t a massive help for me being a CWO I already knew a lot about what they said, it most helpful for anyone coming in with little recent experience of the Corps and how things work
So if you live next door to your local squadron and became a CI there you literally have to move?
That’s got equalities issues written all over it. Presumably you wouldn’t have to move if you had mobility issues, or needed to be close by for little ones, simply didn’t have a car etc etc? Thus rendering the rule a nonsense!
I thought it had long been established that RAFAC, as much as it may want to, has no right to actually force a move?
But that doesn’t mean it’s enforceable, what rule is that based on? Could just be a wannabe napoleon making stuff up as they go along.
I live 2 mins from my squadron, or a 25 minute drive to the next. So to go into uniform I’ve now got to do that, likely passing the other uniformed staff member driving the opposite direction, equally hacked off. Luckily I don’t in this wing, you get my point though!
People need to be challenging this sort of idiocy.
I think we do need more signposting towards uniformed service but less roadblocks, unsure if a weekend course is the right solution for this or what the perceived problem such a course being mandatory is allegedly resolving.
For a taster of Drill you could as a CI get involved on a parade night with the cadets, it’s how a new SNCO / Officer would learn anyway.
The process is documented in ACP 20 and could easily be an A4 flow chart.
Struggling to see any value here, especially now OASC has gone, I recall attending a full weekend course that included command exercises as OASC prep, to prevent attending cold turkey, but again this is something that you can join in with on a sqn level or by piggy backing onto Bronze/Silver Leadership Courses.
My first and foremost opinion is that we should be doing far more to encourage direct entry SNCOs.
CI is a great option for those it suits, but we absolutely should not be putting people in as a CI ‘first’ (for 6 months, a year, [insert local weirdness here]…) unless that’s specifically what they want, having weighed the balances.
If a person wants to be one of the uniformed team then lets get them going.
With that in mind, I think that a ‘What’s this uniformed staff thing all about then?’ course which introduces people to the opportunities, responsibilities, and manages expectations; so that they can better judge which route they might like to go is a great idea.
Make it optional for all, but encouraged for brand new joiners - Certainly they can get some information from their local unit, but some units are better at this than others. There is probably much which can be gained from a centralised course, along with fellow new joiners - If the content is right and it’s run by the right team.
At the end of that course, everyone should have a good idea of the options and those who aspire to a commission then know what they need to focus on during their 12 months service as CI or Sgt.
Then I favour the ACF approach of a mandatory weekend course for potential uniformed staff. But rather than see it as an ‘extra hurdle’ we should frame it better, by taking some of the existing hurdles and boxing them off together.
Cover AVIP, get them to present something to the group, introduce them to drill… That would all assist me in making a recommendation on their application. A 40 minute board doesn’t always reveal what one needs to know (I’ve seen people put on a good show in a board and then be utterly useless, or worse, once they’ve been appointed.)
If we can include the boards in that course as well, so that in one weekend they get to show more of themselves than the board alone will demonstrate and they go away from the weekend with an answer to their application we’ve won.
My answer there simply would be - Let’s not require them to be appointed as a CI to complete the course.
Just as we often run open days / evenings for prospective cadets, let’s do the same thing for prospective staff.
Prospective staff member gets in contact (via whichever route) and ends up talking to the OC of their preferred unit.
OC meets prospective staff member and gets a feel for them.
Prospective staff member is offered dates for the “what’s it all about?” ‘course’.
If, during the initial chat stage, the OC determines that Bloggs has done their homework, knows what it’s all about and has decided which route they want to follow, then great - there’s no need for them to attend the course.
I really think that, as an organization above Sqn level, we have to change the existing mindset around delivery of training. It seems to be that ‘direct cadet benefit’ is too heavily weighed in what we do. We need good staff to deliver the cadet experience - Well trained, well supported, properly continuously developed staff.
The only way that we can effectively get those good staff is to take some other staff away from delivering to cadets and have them focus on staff training.
In my opinion, Wings (or possibly Regions) need dedicated staff training teams as a primary duty.
A good staff team delivering cadet training benefits, say, a dozen cadets at a time. A good staff team training a dozen staff to be good instructors, who then go on to deliver their own good cadet training to a dozen cadets each…
It has always seemed like a ‘no-brainer’ to me.
To which the response (as I’m sure you know) is “no good someone being here who hasn’t been adequately trained for the role - there’s no benefit for the cadets to someone being here for them if they can’t do something for them and do it well”.
As a non-sarcastic response to this, good training teams like this are a force multiplier as you’ve pointed out and should be the way forward, regardless of the ‘not enough staff on squadrons’ argument - that is a recruitment and retention problem and the answer is not to pull people back to units from valuable roles as a sticking plaster solution.
In terms of dedicated teams, some will necessarily be at a Regional level (e.g. SATTs, Adventure training etc) where the numbers of people attending courses is not high enough on a Wing level to sustain them as a team on their own, or where minimum course loadings make them not viable - but others, such as a ‘Pre Uniform Training Team’ or whatever could be at a Wing level because having a more localised team for this is probably of benefit.