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Value of ex-military skills not being recognised by civilian employers

As a result, the full value that veterans can bring to the civilian workplace is not being realised by employers.

Conducted amongst 782 veterans now in civilian employment, the research was commissioned to coincide with the launch of the Veterans Employment Transition Support programme, known as VETS.

VETS, with support from the MOD and Career Transition Partnership (CTP) is a pilot partnership between a coalition of willing companies and leading military charities.

Working within the existing landscape of employment transition support available to veterans, VETS seeks to collaborate and share best practice to improve and optimise employment outcomes for veterans and employers alike.

The VETS programme provides end-to end transition support, offering veterans mentoring, CV and interview skills, training, work experience and job opportunities.  For employers, advice is offered on how to recruit veterans and support is provided to help get the best from veterans in their workforce. 

The research shows that only around a fifth (22%) of the veterans surveyed feel that their current employer fully recognises the skills and experience they possess, and understands how these skills benefit the workplace and can add value to a business.  

The findings also reveal that nearly a third (31%) of veterans do not feel their current job is challenging. Of those who are not satisfied in their current civilian role*, over three fifths (61%) feel that their skills are not being fully utilised by their employer.

Furthermore, more than four in 10 (42%) veterans felt they took a step backwards when entering the workforce. With 12,000 -20,000 individuals leaving the UK Armed Forces every year, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans of working age that may not be optimising their skills and abilities, resulting in a missed opportunity for them, employers and the economy at a time when skills shortages are a challenge for the UK.

Workplace challenges

The challenges facing veterans in civilian employment do not end at their skills going unrecognised. Other challenges identified by survey respondents when entering the civilian workforce include:

•         Struggling to navigate the politics of a workplace (27%)

•         Being unclear about career progression (26%) 

•         Not being able to explain their experience in a way civilian employers understand (17%)

•         The attitudes of employers towards veterans (14%)

Stuart Tootal, head of the Barclays Armed Forces Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement (AFTER) Programme, one of the VETS partners, said, “Veterans have a wealth of experience and possess innate skill sets that make them a valuable asset in the civilian world.  However, the research shows that too many businesses are failing to appreciate the commercial value that these individuals can bring to the workplace and as a result too many veterans are in employment that underutilises their skills. 

“The real benefit of VETS is that it brings together existing activities to enhance support for veterans, working collaboratively to help them use their skills and enhance their careers. It will also assist employers in seeking to hire veterans into their workforce.  The value that ex-military employees bring should not be underestimated, and at Barclays we have already benefited from hiring from the highly skilled veteran talent pool, while avoiding paying expensive fees to recruiters.”

While over half (53%) of veterans surveyed said they received no assistance from their first employer in adjusting to the civilian workplace, many believe that a few simple measures would have helped their transition greater support in translating their skills (28%), having a mentor (19%) and more feedback from potential employers (18%). 

Veterans themselves recognise the valuable skills that can be developed while serving in the Armed Forces and see how they would benefit employers.  Of these skills, veterans rate the following as having the greatest benefit to civilian employers: 

1 Ability to work in a team (82%)

2 Problem-solving skills (75%)

3 Ability to work under pressure (74%)

4 Adaptability (72%)

5 Professionalism (72%)

6 Leadership (69%)

Allan Vaughan OBE of VETS partner ISS, said, “ISS is proud to be supporting VETS. We understand the advantage of employing veterans and have benefitted directly from the unique skill sets that veterans possess. The MOD makes a significant investment in training service personnel and there is a real opportunity for businesses to capitalise from this investment.”



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