Businesses missing out on potential of ex-military personnel

Employers are missing out on talented and highly-qualified staff due to a lack of understanding of how the skills of ex-military personnel can be transferred.

Service leavers often feel disadvantaged when they enter the workplace and are sometimes recruited into roles that do not match their skill sets, according to a report from the Institute of Leadership & Management.

Based on findings from a series of focus groups, the Tales of Transition report said businesses often had biased views about service leavers being “damaged” or autocratic.

Eighty-six per cent of those surveyed said many employers did not understand how military experience could be transferred into other sectors, while 69% believed organisations were unaware of service leavers’ skill sets, which meant they missed out on the full benefits of employing them.

Many military personnel have received extensive training and are often qualified tradespeople or professionals such as medics, barristers or pilots.

Despite ex-military personnel having transferable skills including leadership, problem solving, coaching and strategy, they said they lacked confidence in their ability to sell themselves – especially coming from a more teamwork-driven environment.

The report also claimed there was a strong contrast between the language and behaviour used by veterans and civilians, and many service leavers failed to access support services when needed as they were unsure which options best suited them.

The report recommended that:

  • charities, organisations and contractors interact to deliver support and “hiring pipelines” for ex-military personnel;
  • transition organisations engage with employers to clear up misconceptions they hold about veterans and promote their skills;
  • employers offer service leavers work placements and shadowing opportunities;
  • organisations set up mentoring networks from the community of veterans that have successfully transitioned into business;
  • employers increase support for younger veterans and those who were in lower ranks to promote literacy and numeracy; and,
  • businesses curate support material from different organisations to help veterans and provide a glossary of ‘military language’ and ‘business language’.

Kate Cooper, head of research, policy and standards at the Institute of Leadership & Management, 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 how truly transferable these skills and capabilities really are.”

One Response to Businesses missing out on potential of ex-military personnel

  1. Avatar
    Matthew Keeffe 2 Aug 2018 at 6:02 pm #

    Being an ex-serviceman myself, the main issue is that skills acquired in the Armed Forces often do not translate into everyday jobs. I think more should be done to match the civilian skills required with the courses undertaken whilst men and women are serving soldiers.

    Also, I note that the more professional qualifications required soldiers to do either external exams or further courses to gain the adequate qualification to be considered a viable candidate in civilian life.

    If the courses are geared to ex servicemen embarking on a further career and more is done to advertise this with civilian firms, then the reticence to employ ex servicemen will dissipate.

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