A comprehensive report by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner looking at improving learning and employment opportunities for the veterans community in Scotland, has been published.
Scottish Veterans Commissioner, Eric Fraser CBE, was motivated to write the report after meeting a former Army soldier, who struggled with his transition into civilian life, but after receiving vital support from the statutory sector, charities and the academic community that helped him to secure accommodation, meaningful work and a place at college - he has now recently graduated with an Honours degree.
Mr Fraser said: “It is experiences like Derek’s that have motivated me to write this report, which is aimed at helping more members of the veterans community in Scotland to secure meaningful and sustained jobs. I believe they can truly benefit from a system where the last remaining disadvantages and barriers have been removed, and opportunities in employment, skills development and academia are maximised.”
The aim of the report is to generate debate and ultimately, provide direction for improving employment and learning opportunities for the veterans community in Scotland. The report covers major ground, exploring the core subjects of ‘Securing Employment’, ‘Qualifications and Skills’, ‘Further and Higher Education’, how a changing military workforce in Scotland will impact on the next generation of veterans; and, the strategic leadership and governance that is essential to delivering meaningful change and sustained improvement in the future.
SaluteMyJob looks at some of the key findings, specifically focusing on securing employment, strategic leadership and the vital need for more to be done to ensure the qualifications and skills gained while serving, are more widely recognised by employers.
Securing Employment and Strategic Leadership
It is promising to see the Veterans Commissioner echo the thoughts of SaluteMyJob chairman, Sir General Nick Parker, when he strongly recommends that collaboration and strategic leadership is required to deliver successful change to improve employment opportunities for the veterans community. In a recent Op-Ed in The Times, our chairman expressed parallel recommendations, he called for strategic leadership, to bring direction, coherence and clarity to the confusion facing veterans and employers, stressing the need for a new nationwide veterans’ employment service. So without doubt, at SaluteMyJob we fully back Mr Fraser’s recommendation - strategic leadership is key.
It is also promising to hear Mr Fraser highlight Scotland as the best place to provide the strategic leadership required to deliver successful change, highlighting The Scottish Veterans Employment and Training Service (SVETS) as one of the organisations offering a solid foundation to build on. (SVETS is a collaborative initiative between employers and veterans' organisations in Scotland, designed to link former Service men and women with those organisations best placed to support them. This is a unique, collaborative programme delivered in partnership with SaluteMyJob, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce and Veterans Scotland.)
The Scottish Government should establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee the activity required to full the ambitions of more, and better, employment opportunities for veterans, as articulated in this report.
The working group should include core participation from the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Local Government representation, Ministry of Defence (MOD)/Career Transition Partnership (CTP), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and Veterans Scotland.
The Scottish Government should initiate and co-ordinate a regional employability pilot project, based in an area where there is a high military and veteran population. The purpose should be to deliver an increased number of meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for Service Leavers, veterans, and spouses and partners.
The Scottish Government should commission research to provide analysis of the current baseline of the employment situation for the veterans community and to evaluate the impact of national and local initiatives to improve job prospects.
Filling the skills gap and recognising military skills
Mr Fraser said it is vital that more is done to ensure that qualifications and skills gained while serving are better understood and more widely recognised by employers in Scotland. He said: “This is a challenging undertaking which will require us to break new ground, specifically by including far wider representation from across the public and private sectors. As such, I believe there is a central role for the Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group in co-ordinating efforts and developing a plan that delivers this aim.”
The Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group should produce a plan for building understanding and recognition amongst Scottish employers (especially SMEs) of the skills and qualifications gained in the military. The Group should also consider whether the current system for translating and mapping quali cations could be simpli ed and how it might be better utilised and understood.
The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) should build on their existing relationship with the aim of ensuring Service Leavers and veterans have seamless access to SDS once their period of support from CTP comes to an end. This will be particularly important for Early Service Leavers and others in danger of ‘falling between the gaps’.
What is apparent from the case studies within the report, is the difficulty many employers have in recognising the skills and competencies gained in the Armed Forces - and how these skills can be translated into the commercial workplace - an issue SaluteMyJob aims to tackle. This is an important part of what we do for veterans, we help translate the knowledge, skills and experience they have gained in their career within the Armed Forces into the language of commercial employers. We do this by using our unique Explore, Translate and Adapt© process to improve the competitiveness of ex-military candidates. So although Mr Fraser said there is still work to be done, we are actively addressing this issue and would be honored to be part of, or advise the proposed Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group on how to educate more employers into recognising the skills and qualifications gained in the military.
Managing Director of SaluteMyJob, Andrew Jackson, said: “The team at SaluteMyJob welcome this report, as will the veterans who seek employment opportunities in Scotland. The Commissioner's principal recommendation to establish a body to provide leadership and oversee activity is exactly what is required to ease the employers and veterans' confusion, encourage employers to engage and promote opportunities for former Service men and women and their spouses.'
“Similarly, it is encouraging to see the Commissioner identifying the opportunity for veterans to help fill significant skills gaps reported by employers across various sectors. However it will be important for employers and other agencies to work together to offer training and education to ex-military jobseekers and thereby make the most of their transferable skills.'
“SaluteMyJob would relish the opportunity to participate in the pilot project recommended in the report. It is essential this project coordinates activity and, in particular, has the enabling processes and systems to capture opportunities offered by public and private sector organisations, communicate them effectively and match them to suitably qualified veterans. In our view, the impressively collaborative Scottish Veterans Employment and Training Service is the ideal vehicle to manage a pilot project and to demonstrate how Scotland can become a destination of choice for veterans.”
To read the report in full, go to http://www.gov.scot/About/public-bodies/veterans-commissioner/Publications.