Armed forces workforce
Last updated 27 March 2018 - see all updates
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- 1. Navigate to Main facts and figures section
- 2. Navigate toPersonnel by ethnicity and service, 2017 section
- 3. Navigate toOfficers by ethnicity and service over time section
- 4. Navigate toService personnel (all other ranks) over time section
- 5. Navigate toArmed forces personnel by ethnicity and rank section
- 6. Navigate to Methodology section
- 7. Navigate to Data sources section
- 8. Navigate to Download the data section
1. Main facts and figures
- in the first half of 2017, people from an ethnic minority background (other than White ethnic minorities) comprised 2.4% of officer ranks across all the UK armed forces
- for ranks below officer, 8.3% of all service personnel were from an ethnic minority background (other than White ethnic minorities)
The ethnic categories used in this data
The following 2 categories were used:
- White (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
- Other (all other ethnic minorities)
These categories were chosen due to the small numbers involved.
2. Personnel by ethnicity and service, 2017
|Royal Air Force||2.1||2.3|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||1.9||3.9|
Summary of Armed forces workforce Personnel by ethnicity and service, 2017 Summary
3. Officers by ethnicity and service over time
|Royal Air Force||2.3||2.3||2.3||2.2||2.2||2.1|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.9|
Summary of Armed forces workforce Officers by ethnicity and service over time Summary
4. Service personnel (all other ranks) over time
|Royal Air Force||1.9||2.0||2.0||2.1||2.2||2.3|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||4.0||3.9||3.9||4.0||3.9||3.9|
Summary of Armed forces workforce Service personnel (all other ranks) over time Summary
5. Armed forces personnel by ethnicity and rank
|OF-6 and above||99.1||withheld to protect confidentiality|
|All Other Ranks||91.7||8.3|
Summary of Armed forces workforce Armed forces personnel by ethnicity and rank Summary
Personnel statistics are derived from the MOD’s JPA system. This is used for the administration of all armed forces personnel.
Extracts are taken from the JPA system each month and stored on a separate database to form a time series. The extracts are taken 6 days after the end of the month and calculate the situation as at the 1st of the month. This means that the statistics include data that may have been submitted to the JPA a few days late. However, some late reporting can affect the statistics – for example, when someone leaves or their status changes from untrained to trained.
The data goes through a series of automatic validation checks based on previous corrections. As a result of these checks, edits are made to the data to ensure basic data quality. A series of derived fields are also calculated.
Once the data is confirmed as being accurate, the database is queried to produce the range of tables. These tables undergo several rounds of checking and scrutiny to ensure the outputs are accurate and consistent, before being published.
All personnel in the regular armed forces must be recorded on the JPA system for them to receive their pay. Therefore, the overall ‘strength’ figures are accurate. However, more detailed breakdowns can be less accurate, due to the variable quality of the data entered. This is partly because some key information required for managing individuals is recorded and updated centrally, whereas other information is added by individuals themselves.
In the diversity statistics in the source data tables, counts are rounded to the nearest 10. You can download these tables at the bottom of this page.
However, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent the systematic bias caused by always rounding numbers upwards.
For example, a value of 25 would be rounded down to 20 and a value of 15 would be rounded up to 20.
Totals and subtotals are rounded separately, so may not equal the sums of their rounded parts.
7. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Ministry of Defence
Twice a year
Purpose of data source
The main purpose of these statistics is to:
- inform policy and decision-making within the Ministry of Defence (MoD)
- measure the performance of the MoD against government and Parliament targets
- inform general debate in government, Parliament and the wider public
8. Download the data
The file contains ethnicity, year, rank, service, rate, number of personnel