Reports back calls for employers to take advantage of military talent

MORE influential business leaders have added their voices to calls for employers to work harder to recruit from the growing veteran talent pool.

Both the Institute of Leadership and Management and banking giant Barclays have published reports this month which add further weight to SaluteMyJob’s message to businesses that they are missing out if they are not employing service leavers.

The ILM published its Tales of Transition report this month to coincide with Armed Forces Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Businesses missing out on boosting skills base

The ILM report says businesses are missing out on key opportunities to boost their skills base and productivity by not effectively employing well-qualified ex-military personnel.

It goes on to identity the barriers to helping veterans enter the civilian workplace and details the steps that business leaders could take to support transition into work for former members of the Armed Forces.

Barriers to veteran employment

The ILM report states: “Former military employees make a huge contribution to the civilian workplace. But, our findings suggest service leavers are frequently not afforded opportunities to enter the civilian workforce at a level corresponding to their equivalent military skill sets.

“This not only limits people’s individual capacity to leverage their skills, it limits corporate potential and ultimately UK productivity too. Our research finds service leavers feel disadvantaged when entering the competitive civilian job market; moving from a world where they have defined training and skills, to cultures where they are competing to demonstrate their value and are having to ‘self-promote’ in order to gain appropriate employment. Another challenge is the frequent civilian perception of Armed Forces leavers being ‘damaged goods’.

“For this to change an approach building on existing programmes is needed. If done well it has the potential to improve the transition. This can be achieved through providing greater awareness amongst civilian employers of the opportunities and business case for employing veterans; through to modelling success through case studies in supportive organisations; and through addressing perceptions of military life and military service leavers. It is vitally important all military service leavers have the support they need at an individual level to transition into the civilian workplace, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”

Ex-military have skills needed by modern organisations

Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the ILM, said: “Members of the Armed Forces acquire many new skills and capabilities during their service, the skills and capabilities that modern organisations need now.

“Our research encourages employers and veterans to think again about truly transferable these skills and capabilities really are.”

The institute has established a LinkedIn group to encourage members to ask for advice from other service leavers and offer mentoring, as well as offering to curate transition resources to allow veterans to find information more easily.

ILM report key recommendations

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Greater integration between charities, contractors and organisations who already deliver support and ‘hiring pipelines';
  • Curate the wealth of support available from different agencies to enable easier access to information and support. This should also include a glossary of ‘military language’ translated into ‘business language’;
  • Transition organisations should engage more widely with potential employers to address stigmatised perception of veterans and promote awareness, not only of their extensive transferable leadership and teamworking skills but also their propensity to learn new skills rapidly;
  • Increased provision of support for younger leavers at lower ranks, and those with lower literacy and numerical skills Earlier engagement with the resettlement process for both service leavers and potential employing organisations;
  • More attention given in the resettlement package to provide veterans with greater support in understanding the culture of civilian work places, and how their skills translate;
  • Encourage potential civilian employers to develop ‘military pipelines’ and be inquisitive about understanding what veterans have to offer through establishing communications with the MoD;
  • More creative use of work placements and shadowing opportunities;
  • Establish mentoring networks from the community of veterans who have transitioned successfully.

SaluteMyJob managing director, Brigadier (Retd) Andrew Jackson, said companies could broaden their search horizons to take advantage of the growing pool of ex-Forces talent.

“More than 15,000 men and women leave the Armed Forces every year, many with years of specialist training under their belts, and almost all with a strong work ethic, excellent problem-solving skills and a deep sense of integrity and loyalty.

“SaluteMyJob helps ex-forces jobseekers translate their acquired military knowledge, skills and experience into the language of commercial employers. Crucially, we also help them provide evidence of those skills and therefore compete strongly for jobs.

“SaluteMyJob’s vision is to join the dots between the hundreds of employers offering thousands of jobs to the thousands of ex-military people needing help to find the right job in the right organisation.”

Female veterans facing prejudice in jobs market

Female veterans are facing a major disadvantage when applying for civilian job interviews, the Barclay’s research found.

Research from the bank’s AFTER (Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement) programme found that those leaving the military often faced prejudice in the civilian jobs market, with women suffering more than men.

More than a third (35%) of all veterans believe they have not been offered an interview or progressed through the application process due to their military background, and that increases to 42% amongst female veterans.

In addition, a third of female veterans say they have been asked an inappropriate question in a job interview, including whether they knew how to act and dress in a feminine way.

What not to ask at interview

The report found that three in ten military service leavers have been asked inappropriate interview questions:

  • 26% of women have been asked if they knew how to act and dress in a feminine way.

  • 33% of men have been asked if they have ever shot or killed anyone.

  • 22% of women have been asked about how they felt working in a male-dominated environment.

  • 19% of women have been asked if they have ever handled a firearm.

The authors of the report say the findings demonstrate that more needs to be done to remove the barriers female veterans face when job hunting.

On average, it takes the veteran population four months to find a civilian job, a figure which increases to five months among female veterans.

The report further outlines that fewer female veterans are finding jobs within a month - 21% for women when compared to 39% in male veterans.

The study found 44% of female veterans have undertaken additional training when looking for civilian roles, compared to 28% of men.

Female veterans often overlooked

Stuart Tootal from the Barclays AFTER Programme said: "We’ve seen first-hand how the experience gained from a military career is a hugely valuable asset and are actively working to employ more ex-military women.

"It’s disappointing to see that female veterans are being overlooked and having to go the extra mile when transitioning into a civilian career.

"We must all play our part and take action to level this playing field – businesses must provide more support to veterans of both sexes and fully recognise the very real talent that they can add to any organisation."