Public perception of veterans still main block to employment

PUBLIC perception of military veterans as having been damaged by their service is still one of the main stumbling blocks to a successful move into civilian employment, according to a new report.

Latest Veteran Transition Review published

In February 2014, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC published the Veterans' Transition Review, in which he made a number of recommendations concerning education and training, resettlement and employment, housing, health, welfare and the Armed Forces Covenant. He has followed his initial report with an annual review. You can read the latest review on the Veterans’ Transition Review website.

Negative perception of effect of military service

He writes: “The most important message to come out of my work this year is the very negative perception that the public has of military service on the individual. Apart from the barrier this can create for the Service leaver during resettlement, it must have an impact on recruiting. Also this is important on the moral plain; is it acceptable that the people of the UK think that military service is bad for you?

“This view must be changed. Improvements will not come from doing more of what we are doing now, or even doing it better. It will require a new approach, bringing in expertise that government offices do not have, and must be driven with leadership and sustained energy at the highest level.”

Highly damaging to veterans employment prospects

Brigadier (Retd) Andrew Jackson, managing director of SaluteMyJob, said: “The common perception that veterans are emotionally, physically or psychologically damaged, highlighted again in this 3rd annual report on the Veterans Transition Review, is part of a negative drumbeat about the plight of veterans.

“This is highly damaging to the veterans' employment prospects, on the assumption that this perception is held by hiring managers and HR professional in commercial organisations. While there are people in need, the majority represent prospective assets to business. It is important for us all to work to promote this positive narrative and show how veterans are adding value.”

Moving from the Forces into civilian life

Lord Ashcroft states that, while there has been “good progress” in the whole area of resettlement and job finding, some issues raised in his original 2014 report are still prevalent, including a lack of support for transition at unit level and the need for greater exposure to civilian workplaces for Service personnel and those in transition.

There are still important initiatives to have an impact, including the Personal Development Path, which sees individuals taking responsibility for their future and their preparation for it early on in their careers, which will not be launched until 2018.

More employers valuing soft skills of ex-military

He praised the amount of work being done on converting military skills qualifications into their civilian equivalents and also noted that more and more employers value the soft skills of leadership and teamwork, qualities often praised in members of the Armed Forces and service leavers.

He writes: “I suggest we would help our Service leavers more if these soft skills were given greater prominence. This is not just a matter of using the right language in the way that we present them to potential employers. (Earlier I said) we need to develop the right narrative that explains the nature of our Service personnel and veterans to the nation; this is part of that story.

Need for greater use of work placements

“Also in my review, I suggested a far greater use of work placements. While I have constantly been reassured that a system is in place, I have met business people who know nothing about it. I am surprised that so little energy, apparently, has been put into this, a low-cost programme that would greatly increase employers’ understanding of the qualities Service personnel can bring to their business and significantly reduce the culture shock some Service leavers find on entering the civilian workforce.”