Are Veterans The Answer To The UK Skills Gap?

The UK skills shortfall is getting bigger, yet a deep well of talent remains largely untapped: ex-military personnel.

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The UK skills shortfall is getting bigger, yet a deep well of talent remains largely untapped: ex-military personnel.


Are Veterans The Answer To The UK Skills Gap?

The UK skills shortfall is getting bigger, yet a deep well of talent remains largely untapped: ex-military personnel.

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Recruitment is often a challenging task for employers, no matter the size or structure of your business. It requires dedication, resources and time and there is no guarantee that you will find the  individual with the right behaviours, experience and skills for your organisation.

This issue has never been more applicable than it is now, with Britain in the grip of a skills shortage that appears to have worsened in 2016.

Despite half of SMEs with five or more employees planning to increase their headcount in the next two years, a shortage of skilled staff is now the biggest challenge facing small business owners, compared to 2015 when it ranked third.

So how can business leaders and HR executives go about finding staff with the right skills to plug the gap and benefit their company?

Transferable skills

One group who could provide part of the answer to this problem, but they constitute a pool of talent that is often overlooked. Ex-forces personnel offer a wealth of transferable skills, including leadership, teamwork, strategic planning and problem solving that bring huge value to the civilian workplace.

However, recent research from the Barclays AFTER programme revealed that finding a civilian job is the biggest concern for almost half of those (49%) leaving the armed forces.

Almost a quarter (23%) felt they weren’t able to explain their armed forces experience well on a CV or job application, while a similar proportion (25%) felt that a civilian interviewer had preconceptions about them and their suitability for the role because of their time in the armed forces.


Many military skills are transferable, but it's tricky to explain how on a CV

Our AFTER programme aims to tackle this issue; too many veterans still struggle to translate their innate skill sets in a manner that resonates with a commercial employer, and often have little idea of where the right employment opportunities exist.

This means that their skills are often being underutilised in the civilian workforce – something highlighted in a separate poll we conducted, where it was discovered that only around a fifth believe their skills and experience are being fully recognised and put to good use in the workplace.

CV translation and mentors

So what can large and small business owners alike do to better leverage the value of ex-military personnel for their companies and ensure they are not missing out on top talent?

One thing that we have found useful at Barclays is ensure all ex-military CVs are looked at not only by the relevant hiring manager, but also by veterans from within our organisation who work with the hiring manager to explain the transferrable skill sets and ensure relevant and valuable experience is not overlooked.

Additionally, we use short work experience engagements and internships to validate and develop ex-military candidates, which leads to a high number of successes at the formal interview stage.

Support for successful ex-military candidates once they enter your workforce is just as important.

At Barclays, we assign all of our successful military applicants with an ex-military mentor when they start in their new role.

Being able to candidly discuss their transition into the civilian workforce with someone who understands their perspective is something our ex-military joiners have found incredibly valuable, and has played an important role in retaining this top talent in our organisation.


Some ex-service people need to adjust to the new working environment

The value of VETS

Of course, Barclays is just one of many businesses that is able to support veterans seek employment – could yours be one too?

At the end of 2015, with support from the Ministry of Defence and Career Transition Partnership, we brought together a national coalition of willing companies and leading military charities into a collaborative partnership, Veterans Employment Transition Support (VETS).

VETS shares best practice of hiring veterans and provides a codified end-to end transition support model to veterans; offering mentoring, CV and interview skills, training, work experience and job opportunities.

By creating a platform of connectivity and a coordinated system of tried and tested transition tools and mechanisms, VETS looks to also assist employers by providing them with greater access to this talented pool of individuals, at greatly reduced recruitment costs.

In essence VETS has the potential to provide employers with access to a workforce of 750,000 veterans of working age in the UK.

VETS is an investment in your own business. No matter the size of your organisation, everyone’s contribution will be different but equally valuable.

But it is only through joining together that we can make a real difference to veterans’ employment prospects and enhance our own workforces simultaneously. It’s great for the individual, great for society, and great for business.

For more information about VETS, visit the veteran employment website.  

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Are Veterans The Answer To The UK Skills Gap?

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