A special dinner for employers, hosted by partner organisations of the Scottish Veterans Employment and Training Service (SVETS) has taken place in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle, courtesy of Major General Mike Riddell-Webster, Governor of Edinburgh Castle.
Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin and Business in the Community Scotland, the dinner, which took place on Wednesday, 31st May was an opportunity for employers to learn more about and contribute to a new, employer-led initiative to connect transitioning and ex-military jobseekers with opportunities offered by Scottish employers. The initiative is being launched in response to the challenge laid down by the Scottish Veterans’ Commissioner, Eric Fraser, to ‘greatly enhance the employment prospects of veterans and their families in Scotland’.
The Veterans’ Minister, Keith Brown, was represented at the dinner by Paul Johnston, Director General Learning and Justice Directorate, Scottish Government and Armed Forces and Veterans Advocate. Mr Johnston reaffirmed the Government’s support for 1,200 leaving the Armed Forces annually in Scotland, describing the work it is undertaking and encouraged employers to follow Standard Life’s lead by contributing to the Scottish Veterans’ Fund.
Mr Johnston also spoke about the newly formed Strategic Group on Veterans Employability and its future plans. He closed the speech by saying: "Veterans and their families are a real asset to Scotland and we are committed to continue working with all our partners – including employers - to boost their career prospects and promote them as a valuable resource to enhance Scotland’s workforce."
Brigadier (Retired) Andrew Jackson, Managing Director of SaluteMyJob, focused on Veterans’ ‘asks’ of employers. He drew attention to employer led initiatives in the US, such as the Veterans’ Job Mission, a collaborative venture between 200 employers which, between them, have hired around 400,000 US veterans. And finally, Sandy Begbie, Chief People Officer and Head of Sustainability at Standard Life gave an employer’s perspective. Mr Begbie described the company’s commitment to support veterans’ employment explained the reasoning behind the £240,000 Standard Life has granted to veterans’ employment projects over the next 3 years. Mr Begbie said after the event: "I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, it was a great forum to meet employers, Armed Services personnel and other interested parties and individuals."
Around 80 guests attended the event, including representatives from Blackrock, G4S, Farne Salmon, RBS, Scottish Water and DXC (formerly HP). Many other employers unable to attend the dinner have expressed support for the initiative. Those employers who did attend said, as well as employment opportunities, they would be happy to provide other services to Scottish veterans. The feedback from employers attending the event gives clear evidence of their commitment:
75% of employers are willing to become part of a Scotland-wide network supporting employment of veterans and their families.
68% said they would join a collaborative SVETS’ partnership linking opportunities offered by employers with ex-military jobseekers.
100% of employers would offer opportunities of some sort, from mentoring to training to work attachments to jobs.
An impressive 35% would contribute people (on loan or secondment) to resource the initiative.
Andrew Jackson, Managing Director of SaluteMyJob, said: “The enthusiasm and willingness of Scottish employers to support veterans’ employment is hugely encouraging. Not only do they see the value ex-military people can attend to their business, they also implement their own Armed Forces or ‘veterans’ programmes. This initiative is all about encouraging them to contribute to the cause of veterans’ employment on a collective basis by sharing good practice, resources and activity to the benefit of Scottish veterans and their families’. The appetite of employers to step up to the Scottish Veterans’ Commissioner’s challenge was all too clear at this highly successful event.”
Captain (Retired) Shaun Cauvin, SaluteMyJob’s Client Relationship Manager in Scotland, said: “It was fantastic to see so many employers committed to helping the ex-service community across Scotland. It is important that we continue the momentum from last night's event and I look forward to working with employers to ensure that those leaving and those who have left the Armed Forces are able to capitalise on their talents.”
SVETS is a collaborative initiative between organisations in Scotland that are actively engaged in veterans’ employment. It was launched as an information-sharing group in October 2015 by Keith Brown (Scottish Veterans Minister), Eric Fraser (Scottish Veterans’ Commissioner) and General Sir Nick Parker (SaluteMyJob’s Chairman). The SVETS team now seek the active support of Scotland’s employers to join together to help bridge the significant gap that currently exists between employers and jobseekers from the Armed Forces community.