How to set up and run a successful Work Placement Programme for Service Leavers

SaluteMyJob chats to Sue Bomphray, an HR Director at Barclays based in Scotland who left the Army 20 years ago. We find out all about Barclays’ work placement programme for Service Leavers and Sue shares her best practice tips for employers looking to set up similar placements within their organisation.

Barclays’ Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme runs a series of one to two-week work ‘taster’ placements designed to give Service Leavers exposure to a wide range of functions across the business and valuable business experience that will assist with their transition into civilian employment. Successful candidates not only gain a unique insight into how a financial institution operates but also develop tangible career skills including CV enhancement and interview techniques.

Barclays' work placements are generally for people who are in the resettlement period but Barclays also offer these opportunities to those who have left the Services and may have not found the right career path. Sue said work placements are a useful tool for transitioning personnel as they get an insight into what it is like to work for a large financial institution like Barclays and, moreover, the chance to understand whether it is the sort of place they would like to pursue a career in the future. 

She added: “It’s about giving them the chance to actually see people doing their jobs, chat to them and get exposure to working in a civilian work environment. It also allows Service Leavers to build up their network.”

Those taking part in the placement have the opportunity to find out about the key business and functional areas in Barclays, such as Private Banking as well as Risk & Operations. Service Leavers find out more about certain roles within the business through ‘a day-in-the-life’, taking part in call listening, as well as gaining interview and CV advice.  “A lot of our one-to-one support is about speaking to people about what type of roles their skills could be suited for and helping generally with advice on transitioning,” said Sue.

Some business areas in Barclays may not have thought about employing ex-military people at all - so by doing these work placements, we have actually created a lot of interest in military candidates.
— Sue Bomphray

How do offering work placements to Service Leavers benefit you as a business?

“From a business perspective, it allows businesses to gain exposure to a range of different people and for a business to see what military candidates can bring to the workplace,” said Sue. “Some business areas in Barclays may not have thought about employing ex-military people at all - so by doing these work placements, we have actually created a lot of interest in military candidates. Once you have military candidates coming into the organisation, people can quickly see the positive impact they have on the business.”

Veterans bring such a fresh perspective into an organisation and a huge amount of transferable skills. And by offering a work placement, rather than just an interview, you get to really see what people have to offer. It’s almost like a try before you buy - for both employer and candidate.
— Sue Bomphray

 

Sue believes more businesses should offer work placement opportunities as it gives employers the chance to tap into a ‘great talent pipeline’. “With Barclays, it started off as an altruistic thing - particularly focused on WIS and was very much about helping them,” she said. “But what we quickly saw was it is such a great talent pipeline. I think businesses should provide these types of opportunities as we should look after veterans and secondly - it really is a great talent pipeline for organisations to tap into and that for me is almost like the clincher.  Veterans bring such a fresh perspective into an organisation and a huge amount of transferable skills. And by offering a work placement, rather than just an interview, you get to really see what people have to offer. It’s almost like a try before you buy - for both employer and candidate.”


Sue’s top tips to businesses looking to set up their own work placements

  1. Be clear on what type of experience you want to offer to ensure you are pitching at the right rank level – you may want to group people by rank.  The type of role experience which would suit a Colonel will be different to that for a Private soldier.  The ranks of candidates may also determine which areas/roles in your organisation you profile during the placement.

  2. Keep placements short. Our placements typically run for one or two weeks although we do have the option of a longer intern type role but this is only for those still serving. 

  3. Ensure you cover the candidate screening requirements for your organisation – if you are not granting system access this could be as simple as a deed of confidentiality and a basic ID screen.

  4. Advertise well in advance with CTP, the Officers Association and any other military unit contacts you may have.

  5. Work out how many candidates you take on each placement as it will depend on how many staff you have available to support.  We have found 4 to be the optimum number for our placement structure. 

  6. Arrange a social evening as part of the placement to allow candidates to meet people on a more informal basis. 

  7. Include sessions on the application and interview process for your organisation to allow candidates to see how their skills match and potentially to do some practice interviews. 

  8. If possible, give candidates access to the jobs board in your organisation and put them in touch with the hiring managers for any roles that are of particular interest.

  9. Offer ongoing mentoring support for candidates post placement.

    To find out more about Barclays’ AFTER programme, click here: https://www.home.barclays/AFTERprogramme.html


Want to find out more about employing veterans? Download the full Capitalising on military talent: Everything you need to know about employing veterans here.