Military Skills Development System

Military Skills Development System

The Military Skills Development System(MSDS)is a Department of Defence initiative that has been implemented since 2003. The MSDS serves as the entry platform for young South Africans who seek a career in the South African National Defence Force. Prospective applicants must have a Grade 12 qualification and be between 18 and 22 years old, or a Diploma with at least three (3) years tertiary qualification or a Degree to the age of 26 years. Selected applicants join the South African National Defence Force through the MSDS for an initial period of two year’s voluntary service, during which they will receive military training and further functional training. Further functional training includes a wide variety of options, varying from specialised musterings such as Engineering to general support musterings such as Material Support Clerks.
Training for all MSDS members commences with Basic Military Training, during which basic military skills and discipline are taught. This is followed by a further selection process during which members can apply for junior leader training as officers or non-commissioned officers. After having completed their military formative training, members proceed to undertake functional training in any one of the specialist occupations. Selected members with the required acedemic qualifications are also sent to universities or the Military Academy.
Towards the end of the second year (unless otherwise indicated), the member will be given the opportunity to indicate whether he or she would like to extend the contract or leave the Air Force. An extension of the contract will mainly depend on the member’s performance over the two years and the availability of posts in the relevant functional field. Most of these members continue to serve in the Regular component of the SANDF after having completed their functional training and tertiary studies, where applicable. Others are obliged to render service in the Defence Reserves if they are not translated to the Core Service System.

MSDS General Entry Requirements

There is a general entry requirement for joining the air force as everyone must be fit to serve in a military environment. Each mustering in the SAAF, also known as occupational class in the public service and trade in the technical environment of civil aviation, has requirements for specific educational qualifications, additional personal attributes and a willingness to serve under the working conditions of that mustering.
The minimum general entry requirements for the Military Skills Development Program (MSDS) are that you must be:

  • A South African Citizen (No dual citizenship)
  • Age between 18 and 22 at the time of joining (Not more than 26 for graduates)
  • Unmarried
  • Comply with medical fitness requirements for appointment in the SANDF
  • Currently in Grade 12 or completed Grade 12 or equivalent with subjects specific to a career selection
  • Not be area bound
  • Must not have a criminal record
  • Physically Fit and Medically Fit
  • Comply with all the prescribed requirements for appointment in the SANDF
  • Must be willing to relocate and to participate in deployments both in South Africa and abroad if required to do so
  • Be recommended by a selection board.

Apart form these general requirements, additional requirements might have to be met, depending on the specific training demands of some of the more specialised occupations.

Selection Process

Applications complying with the minimum requirements will be subjected to further screening. Candidates identified will then be invited to partake in a selection process.
The selection process entails the following:
Psychometric evaluation: 
The aim is to assess the candidates aptitude and potential to develop in the position that was applied for. The nature of these tests will depend on the position applied for.
Selection Board (formal interview):
A Selection Board will be conducted in order to assess the applicants interest in the position applied for, as well as his or her interest in the Defence Force in general. The interview will also focus on self- confidence, leadership potential and communication skills.
Medical Evaluation:
A comprehensive medical evaluation will be conducted by appointed military medical practitioners in order to assess the applicants medical history and current medical status. All applicants must be declared fit for military training before commencement.
Criminal Records: 
Fingerprints of applicants will be sent to the Criminal Record Bureau for verification. Records of convictions will be evaluated based on the severity thereof and how recently the offence(s) occurred.
Offer of Employment
Successful applicants will receive an offer of employment. Candidates who are not successful will be informed by correspondence. It is unfortunate that not all applicants who are recommended for training will receive an offer of employment due to the large amount of applications received.

Basic Military Training

Basic Military Training is compulsory to all uniform personnel of the SA National Defence Force and is presented at the Air Force Gymnasium Boston (AFB Hoedspruit), over a period of approximately 13 weeks.
The following subjects will, amongst others, be presented during the training period:

  • Drill
  • Military law
  • Military ceremonies
  • Buddy aid
  • Physical training and Soldiership

Serving in the air force is far more than just having a job, it is a way of life.
Serving in the air force means more than just having a job. When not on duty, your behaviour has also to be beyond reproach as civil society looks up to you. You have to set an example at all times. Volunteers are required to pledge that they will uphold a strict Code of Conduct.
What you do constitutes a vocation when you serve in the air force. You invest most of your time in the air force and in a real sense you become identified with the air force. Your whole personality development is associated with what you do and how you do it.
Viewing your work as a vocation, of which the ultimate function is the preservation of a worthwhile way of life for all the inhabitants of South Africa, permits you to find meaningfulness and a sense of accomplishment.
Serving in the air force requires particular psychological and physical attributes and the intellectual potential for developing the unique compete- ncies required in the air force. Not everybody has these attributes and it is a selected few who will qualify for appointment in the air force.
Individuals who join the airforce are required to have certain basic attributes, while each mustering (or occupational class) include additional attribute requirements. For example, electricians must not be colour blind, as they have to identify wiring in circuits by colour codes. Exclusion from one mustering does not disqualify you from being considered for another.
The SAAF needs all-rounders who will he able to accept the responsibility of leadership. Leadership in the air force is split between officers and other ranks. The officer is required to make considered judgements and warrant officers and non-commissioned officers lead and motivate their subordinates. They form the backbone of the air force and support the officers.
As a junior NCO and junior officer you function at a level in the air force where you are responsible to do what is required of you.
At the same time you are required to develop as an officer or NCO, and you are given the opportunity to undertake new tasks in addition to your normal tasks for which you were trained.
Ability depends en yourself; you either have it or not, -and in both instances you can improve yourself if you are prepared to develop yourself and make full use of the learning opportunities provided. At an early stage in your career it is essential to gain experience in the work place, for this provides the credibility needed to earn respect in senior positions.
Experience is gained through optimum exposure to a variety of situations. It is not gained overnight. You develop more rapidly at an early age when you are still in a formative phase. Later it becomes more difficult to adapt to the military way of life.