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For Oral Answer on : 12/05/2022
Question Number(s): 25 Question Reference(s): 22885/22
Department: Defence
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.


* To ask the Minister for Defence the aptitude tests that are undertaken by those applying for membership of the Defence Forces; the company or companies that administer these tests; the percentage of applicants that fail these tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton T.D.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 12 May, 2022.


I have previously acknowledged the ongoing staffing challenges in the Defence Forces and to tackle these a range of recruitment and retention measures continue to be taken.

The Defence Forces continue to target General Service Recruits, Cadets, Air Corps Apprentice Aircraft Technicians, and specialists for the Army, Air Corps, and Naval Service. As of 30 April 2022, 110 personnel have been inducted. At that same date, 34 recruits had discharged from the Defence Forces in 2022. 

In response to the deputy on psychometric testing, this testing forms part of the recruitment and candidate assessment process for General Service recruits, Air Corps Apprentices and Cadets. The military authorities have advised that, in 2021, there was 41% test failure rate associated with psychometric tests for Cadets and 60% for other recruitment. Two companies are involved in providing and administering these psychometric tests: Mindmill in respect of General Service Recruits and Cadets; and AON in respect of Air Corps Apprentices. The types of psychometric tests utilised include verbal, analytical, and abstract reasoning.

In relation to retention, in addition to pay increases arising from the Public Service Pay Commission report and from public sector pay agreements, a number of other initiatives have been introduced. For example, the service commitment schemes in the Air Corps and Naval Service, and the sea-going naval personnel tax credit of €1,500 which has been extended into 2022.

I have also secured agreement to allow for an extension in service limits for Privates and Corporals, who were recruited since 1 January 1994, to remain in service up to 50 years of age, subject to them meeting certain criteria including medical and fitness standards. Currently, Sergeants recruited to the Permanent Defence Force post-1994 may remain in service up to age 50 and it has been agreed that there shall be arrangements to facilitate the extension of these service limits.  

As the deputies will be aware, the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces has made it clear that the level of ambition for the Defence Forces must be elevated beyond that at which it is operating at the moment. I have made it clear that I am actively seeking to build the strength of the PDF 11,500 in line with level of ambition 2. I intend therefore, before the summer recess, to revert to Government with a proposed response to the Commission’s recommendations and a high-level action plan.