‘Big boys’ toy show’ with more than 4,000 jobs on offer

Jolene Burns pictured in the Challenger 2 tank at the media launch of the Armed Forces Jobs and Trades Fair
Jolene Burns pictured in the Challenger 2 tank at the media launch of the Armed Forces Jobs and Trades Fair
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Anybody with happy memories of playing toy soldiers should get themselves down to the King’s Hall in Belfast this weekend.

In a unique event, the Army is putting eight of their most advanced vehicles on display for the first time ever in Northern Ireland – with attendees being invited to consider what it would be like to drive them for a living.

An RAF pilot in the Gazelle helicopter

An RAF pilot in the Gazelle helicopter

The display is part of the Armed Forces Jobs and Trades Fair – which takes place from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday – with the Army, Navy and RAF putting their best foot forward as they attempt to find over 4,000 recruits across many trades and services.

Dick Rafferty, head of Army recruitment in Northern Ireland, gave the “toy soldier” illustration a modern twist – confirming that video game consoles have “probably helped with recruitment” due to the overabundance of military games.

“They are certainly becoming increasingly realistic for a lot of our target audience,” he added. “The trade show is a great opportunity for the PlayStation generation to think about how the Armed Forces might fit into their future.”

Ministry of Defence spokesman Ken Johnston added: “This is big boys’ toys.”

The Army wants 550 Northern Ireland recruits, while the Navy has 4,000 openings across the UK.