Armed forces workforce
Last updated 12 June 2019 - see all updates
- 1. Navigate to Main facts and figures section
- 2. Navigate toBy ethnicity, service and rank section
- 3. Navigate toBy ethnicity and service over time (officers only) section
- 4. Navigate toBy ethnicity and service over time (non-officer ranks only) section
- 5. Navigate toBy 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
- as at October 2018, people from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) made up 2.5% of officers in the UK regular armed forces, compared with 2.4% in April 2012
- for ranks below officer, 8.8% of all armed forces personnel were from ethnic minorities, compared with 7.9% in April 2012
- the Army had the highest percentage of people from ethnic minorities working both as officers and in other ranks, compared with the other armed forces
The ethnic categories used in this data
For this data, the number of armed forces personnel was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific or broad ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following 2 broad categories:
- White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
- Other – all other ethnic minorities
2. By ethnicity, service and rank
|Service||Officers White||Officers Other ethnic groups||Other Ranks White||Other Ranks Other ethnic groups|
|Royal Air Force||97.7||2.3||97.5||2.5|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||98.0||2.0||95.5||4.5|
Summary of Armed forces workforce By ethnicity, service and rank Summary
3. By ethnicity and service over time (officers only)
|Royal Air Force||2.3||2.3||2.3||2.3||2.3||2.3||2.2||2.1||2.2||2.2||2.1||2.0||2.2||2.3|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.8||1.9||1.8||1.8||1.9||1.9||1.9||2.0|
Summary of Armed forces workforce By ethnicity and service over time (officers only) Summary
4. By ethnicity and service over time (non-officer ranks only)
|Royal Air Force||1.9||2.0||2.0||2.0||2.0||2.0||2.1||2.1||2.2||2.2||2.3||2.3||2.4||2.5|
|Royal Navy/Royal Marines||4.0||3.9||3.9||3.9||3.9||4.0||4.0||4.0||3.9||3.9||3.9||4.1||4.3||4.5|
Summary of Armed forces workforce By ethnicity and service over time (non-officer ranks only) Summary
5. By ethnicity and rank
|Rank code||White||Other than White|
|OF-6 and above||99.8||withheld to protect confidentiality|
|All Other Ranks||91.2||8.8|
Summary of Armed forces workforce By ethnicity and rank Summary
Personnel statistics are derived from the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system. This is used for the administration of all armed forces personnel.
Extracts are taken from the JPA system each quarter 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.
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 workforce figures are accurate. However, more detailed breakdowns can be less accurate, because some key information required for categorising individuals is recorded and updated centrally, whereas other information is added by individuals themselves.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Data identifying fewer than 6 people is suppressed to protect confidentiality.
In the charts, tables and commentary, percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal place.
In the data download, counts are rounded to the nearest 10. 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 public
8. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, service, rank, NATO code, value.