In February 2014, Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC published the Veterans' Transition Review. He made a number of recommendations concerning education and training, resettlement and employment, housing, health, welfare and the Armed Forces Covenant. Lord Ashcroft published a follow up report in July 2015 - noting that little had changed in the first year. This month, a second follow-up report, has been published - showing some positive progress. As part of the follow-up report, more than 4,000 adults were interviewed to complete Lord Ashcroft’s general public research, which has been published separately and is discussed in further detail within the report.
Throughout the research, Lord Ashcroft looks closely at Career Transition, Public Perceptions, Information Provision, Healthcare, Devolved Governments, Charities and Welfare Services. Here, we look in detail at some of the main findings within the Veterans’ Transition Review follow-up.
The general public had a mostly positive view of the Armed Forces with 44% of respondents giving a positivity score of 9/10 or 10/10.
More than a third (36%) said their opinion of the Armed Forces had improved over the last few years – no significant change since 2012.
There was no significant change in the numbers saying they knew little about what Service personnel do on a day-to-day basis.
Interestingly, there was a small increase in the proportions saying that they think members of the Armed Forces, both officers and other ranks, would find it easier than most people to find a new job outside the military.
92% of the general public thought it was very common or quite common “for former members of the Armed Forces to have some kind of physical, emotional or mental health problem as a result of their time in the Forces”. Despite the positive steps described above, the figure was 91% in March 2012 and has therefore increased. Evidently this has become an entrenched view among the public, which will take sustained efforts over several years to correct.
Lord Ashcroft said, minus a few exceptions, most Service Leavers spoke positively about the service they had from the CTP. This is promising, however, less is known about the 7,000 Service leavers per annum who do not access CTP, either because they are ineligible for, or opt out of, the service.
Several related that despite all the practical advice they had received, they still felt unprepared for the culture shock of leaving the Forces – both the emotional loss of comradeship and personal networks, and the differences in working in a non-military environment (“civilians take a lot of getting used to”).
This continued to work both ways, however: a number of interviewees reported that potential employers still “see the soldier not the person” or expected former Service personnel to be unimaginative, unable to use initiative, uncollaborative, and to have a tendency to shout. Several also reported difficulties translating their military experience and qualifications into a civilian context, especially outside the fields of engineering and logistics, though this was raised less often than in our research for the Veterans’ Transition Review.
One initiative Lord Ashcroft mentions in the report, although still in its infancy - sounds like a great concept - the idea of an App for all Service Leavers and veterans. He suggests the App could be used for research, seek veterans’ views on their situation, push information to them, and if location services are enabled, identify where veterans are to help enable the development of appropriate local services.
- We at SaluteMyJob would welcome the development of an app as an aide to veterans.
As we are part of The Scottish Veterans Employment and Training Service (SVETS) (a collaborative initiative between employers and veterans' organisations in Scotland) it is great to see Lord Ashcroft recognise the progress Scotland has made in helping the veteran community. In particular, he reports that Scottish employers clearly recognise the skills of Service Leavers across all sectors and occupations. He also mentions the Scottish Veterans’ Commissioner’s “clear determination to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant” and his most recent report focusing on Veteran Employability, Skills and Learning. Lord Ashcroft agrees with the Commissioner's recommendation to provide greater strategic leadership to improve veteran employment; something we also strongly advocate.
What does SaluteMyJob think about the findings?
Andrew Jackson, Managing Director of SaluteMyJob said of the update:
“There are 2 key findings that stand out. Firstly, that stereotypical views of military personnel and employers who see the “soldier and not the person” are potentially placing veteran jobseekers at a strong disadvantage. And secondly, the recurring issue that we believe is the single biggest barrier to veterans gaining employment - the difficulty in translating acquired military knowledge, skills and experience into a civilian context. SaluteMyJob works with employers to help overcome both of these problems. We run education events and workshops with hiring managers and HR professionals, in which we showcase ex-military people and their skills, to overcome misperceptions about what ex-military people are and are not. We also work with both employers and veterans to help the skills translation problem faced by many veterans.”
“Although Lord Ashcroft generally has positive views of the Armed Forces, it is disappointing to see that 92% of people thought it was very common or quite common “for former members of the Armed Forces to have some kind of physical, emotional or mental health problem as a result of their time in the Forces”. In fact, the most recent MOD data shows that 2,200 Service personnel were medically discharged from the Armed Forces between in the years 2013/14 and 2014/15, some 10% of the 21,000 people discharged, on average over the last 5 years. So there is much work to do to correct this inaccurate view about the medical conditions of former Service men and women”.