17. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to scrap or lower intelligence tests which are used to select recruits to the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20387/18 asked on 10 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I am aware of recent media reports that Psychometric Tests may be scrapped for Defence Forces recruitment and that the Department of Defence is “looking at dropping or lowering the bar on psychometric testing”. This is factually incorrect and misleading.

The Defence Forces utilise Psychometric Tests, as distinct from intelligence tests, during the recruitment process. They have advised that, according to the latest research, psychometric testing is the most valid selection tool that can predict performance in the workplace. The three most common metrics used to assess workplace performance are: Performance on the job, Training performance and Learning on the Job. Psychometric testing scores highest across all three measures for validity.

The Defence Forces rely on psychometric testing of all applicants and tailor ‘test batteries’ to the requirements of each competition, for example:

• General Service Recruitment uses a test specifically designed to predict performance in a recruit training environment. • Army and Naval Service Cadet selection uses managerial test batteries in areas including; literacy, numeracy, verbal reasoning, error checking and/or other relevant areas. Psychometric personality assessments are used to inform competency based interviews. • Air Corps Pilot Cadet selection uses specialised aviation test batteries, personality tests and clinical assessments. • Apprentice selection assesses candidates on literacy, numeracy, numerical reasoning and technical aptitude. As previously stated, the conditions for entry to and service in the Permanent Defence Force are subject to continuous review, having regard to the needs of the organisation and the development of best practices. Following it’s introduction in 2012 for general service recruits, the military authorities have revised the approach to such psychometric testing a number of times.

The approach used will be kept under on-going review to ensure that it delivers an appropriate methodology to determine suitability for entry to the Defence Forces.