Call to remove obstacles to employing "skilled and motivated" service leavers

SMALL businesses are being encouraged to reap the rewards of employing highly-skilled and motivated service leavers in a new report from the Federation of Small Businesses.

A Force for Business: Service Leavers and Small Business describes how businesses employing veterans have reported benefits including resolved skills shortages, improved team performance and fresh perspectives and creative ideas.

But it also calls for help for businesses to understand the transferable skills veterans can bring to their company, financial support for service leavers in retraining and an economic incentive of a break in Employer National Insurance Contributions for smaller businesses who recruit ex-forces personnel.

Mike Cherry OBE, national chairman of the FSB, said: “Setting up and running your own business requires courage, determination and a strong work ethic. These are attributes which service leavers have in spades.

“And for those seeking employment, small businesses can often be better than bigger ones at spotting and nurturing talent, rather than discarding a service leaver’s job application because some of their skills and qualifications aren’t necessarily from a traditional academic route. 

“At the same time, employers would benefit from a simplified way of understanding and recognising the equivalence between military skills and civilian qualifications.”

And the report concludes that: “Service leavers have a lot to offer small businesses. Equally, smaller enterprises provide substantial opportunities for veterans looking for fulfilling employment post their career in the Armed Forces.

“There is a great deal of mutual benefit to be gained by both communities if the numerous obstacles which hinder service leavers looking for work in smaller firms and smaller businesses from hiring veterans can be improved.”

SaluteMyJob’s managing director, Brigadier Andrew Jackson, praised the report, saying: 

“The FSB report is helpful; in particular, it draws attention to the value ex-military people can add to businesses by filling their critical skills gaps, for example in cyber security, transport & rail and various leadership and/ or management roles. It is for this reason that SMJ, in partnership with IBM and the Corsham Academy, helps jobseekers realign and improve the military security training and experience for employment in cyber security roles.

“It seems to me to be impractical, however, to expect small businesses to understand the transferable skills ex-military people offer, Rather, it is for the jobseeker to understand what employers need and to translate their military skills and experience. For this reason, we recommend that ex-military jobseekers avoid using generic CVs but start with a relevant job description and then provide evidence of the skills sought by the employer.

“Finally, I agree that small businesses will often be the best employers of ex-military talent. We would welcome an initiative by the FSB to better connect the opportunities offered by their members with the Armed Forces community; an initiative we would join with enthusiasm.”