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How Ex-Forces Can Contribute to Corporations

The veteran community is a valuable talent pool with unique skills and experiences. Find out how hiring ex-forces can benefit your business.

According to a research by the Royal British Legion, the unemployment rate for ex-forces in the UK is on the rise, with increasing numbers of veterans over the age of 16 presently out of work. Yet, ex-forces are equipped with an abundance of transferable and specialised skills that can be easily translated into the civilian workforce. In fact, ex-forces are some of the most talented individuals in the country and would make a valuable asset to any team.

Let’s take a look at the current challenges ex-forces face when it comes to finding a civilian job and the skills they can bring to your organisation.

What’s in this article?

Key takeaways

  • According to the Royal British Legion research, around 120,000 working-age veterans are unemployed in the UK.
  • Ex-forces personnel are twice as likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts.
  • Many ex-forces in civilian employment find themselves in roles where they are overqualified and unfulfilled.
  • The government has launched the Veteran’s Strategy Action Plan to help ex-forces personnel find employment post-service.
  • Veterans make up some of the most skilled workforce in the UK and are untapped talent for many organisations.
  • Over the course of a military career, personnel will develop a range of transferable skills, which can be translated into the civilian workforce.
  • The current skills shortage is predicted to cost the UK £120 billion by 2030, however, recruiting ex-forces could help minimise this financial pressure on the country.
  • The FDM Ex-Forces Programme is a specialised career programme that helps veterans transition to a civilian career, with expert training, as well as catered support and development initiatives.

Current state of play for veterans looking for employment in the UK

In 2021, the census revealed that there are over 1.85 million ex-forces personnel in England and Wales, which makes up approximately 3.8% of the population over the age of 16. However, this figure is now estimated to be over 2 million!

The Royal British Legion's Household Survey calculates that over half of ex-service personnel are of working age, however, unfortunately, 120,000 veterans within this group are unemployed. In fact, working-age ex-forces personnel in the UK are almost twice more likely to face unemployment than their civilian counterparts. The Ministry of Defence reports that many veterans are left without full-time employment, stuck in part-time jobs, or unfulfilling roles where they are overqualified.

Moreover, the survey reveals that it is particularly more challenging for specific minority groups within the ex-forces community to find employment post-military, such as younger veterans, those from the BAME community, women and disabled personnel. This leaves thousands of talented ex-forces without jobs in an already challenging job market.

However, the government recently launched the Veteran’s Strategy Action Plan, a set of steps designed to improve the lives of veterans in the UK over the next few years. One of the key focus points within this strategy is improving veteran employability and closing the ex-forces unemployment gap. Although the government is working on major initiatives to support ex-forces in the professional world, employers hold a great deal of responsibility and should consider ex-forces when it comes to hiring new talent.

7 transferable skills ex-forces personnel can bring to your team

Despite the high levels of unemployment amongst ex-forces personnel, this is no reflection of the talent and skills veterans can actually bring to the civilian workforce. Veterans make up some of the most skilled professionals in the UK and are an untapped talent pool for many organisations.

Over the course of a military career, personnel will develop an abundance of transferable skills, which can be translated into a civilian career - many of which, professionals without military experience are lacking. So, why hire veterans? Let’s take a closer look at some key transferable skills ex-forces personnel can bring to your teams…

  1. Communication
  2. Organisation
  3. Leadership
  4. Teamwork
  5. Interpersonal skills
  6. Adaptability
  7. Technical skills

1. Communication

Oral and written communication, and listening and presentation skills are some of the most sought-after skills amongst employers. All of these skills are core values in the military, as service people are required to communicate respectfully and effectively, especially with high-ranking officials and in critical, potentially life-threatening situations.

2. Organisation

The military is known for strict schedules and organisation. As such, every service person will be highly trained and accustomed to following organisational regulations, sticking to instructions and keeping organised. This includes being punctual, demonstrating excellent time management skills, meeting deadlines and focusing on productivity.

The structured nature of the military also contributes to helping individuals develop self-motivation and keen attention to detail. Such skills are highly desirable and are essential to any successful business.

3. Leadership

Leadership and people management are essential for senior and management roles. Higher ranking ex military personnel are able to demonstrate excellent leadership skills, making them ideal candidates for managerial positions in civilian jobs. Their previous experiences make them suitable for project and people management, and gives them the skills they need to engage teams, boost morale, maximise productivity and improve employee satisfaction.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork is critical in the army, as servicemen are required to work cohesively. Military teams t all go through team training and it’s not about being the strongest, smartest or fastest, but how you work together with others to overcome challenges. Ex-forces have teamwork instilled in them and have experience working cooperatively with all types of personalities. This is a valuable skill that any employer would be fortunate to have within their organisation.

5. Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are a must-have in the workplace. From conflict management, negotiation and empathy to active listening and a can-do attitude, interpersonal skills are integral to facilitating working relationships and ensuring the smooth running of a business. A career in the military requires many of these skills, such as developing solutions in stressful situations, communicating effectively as a team, building trusting relationships and taking on leadership roles. As a result, ex-forces bring a multitude of interpersonal skills to the civilian workforce that they have exercised in many critical, real-life scenarios.

6. Adaptability

Serving in the military, service people will encounter many new experiences that require them to make decisions under pressure and adapt to new challenges. In many real-world situations, people will be depending on them and lives may well be at stake. This type of adaptability can be greatly beneficial in civilian roles, especially those that involve finance, security, and safety.

7. Technical skills

In addition to a variety of soft skills, as outlined above, a career in the military can equip individuals with a set of specialised technical skills. Many roles in the military require niche training, such as to become an engineer, intelligence operative, signals technician or cyber security specialist - to name a few.

Military training is second to none, and ex-military personnel benefit from some of the best technical and engineering training available. They have the opportunity to put their skills into practice in unique, high-pressure situations.

Julian Lee, EFP Advanced Course Product Owner and Trainer (Ex-Royal Navy Warrant Officer) tells us a bit more about his journey from Royal Navy Officer to a civilian career…

“The FDM Ex-Forces Programme provided me with the opportunity to seamlessly transition from the military and into civilian employment. An intensive training course provided me with an understanding and the growth mindset to be placed within the IT sector as a Capability Manager. This role saw me manage a team of 45 staff, act as a member of the Senior Leadership Team and stand up a Technical Delivery hub, which in turn delivered multiple digital products using both agile and DevOps ways of working. I have now returned to FDM as internal staff to deliver training solutions for the business, and I am a qualified Agile Coach.”

Julian Lee, EFP Advanced Course Product Owner and Trainer

Could ex-forces be the talent your business needs?

In the UK, 68% of employers have struggled to find skilled workers over the last 12 months. This has cost businesses £4.4 billion collectively, which is made up of recruitment and training costs, hiring temporary staff and giving pay rises. With a variety of transferable skills, specialised training and unique hands-on experiences, veterans could be just the talent your business needs to fill your skills gaps and reduce the financial burden of training and recruitment.

However, hiring ex-forces is also predicted to have a significant impact on the wider picture and a positive effect on the economy as a whole. The current skills shortages across industries are having a detrimental effect and are predicted to cost the UK £120 billion by 2030. Hiring ex-forces could be the solution to helping close the national skills gap and stabilising the economy in the coming years.

How can the FDM Ex-Forces Programme help your business?

The FDM Ex-Forces Programme is a specialised career programme, dedicated to helping veterans make the transition from a military job to a civilian career. Since its inception in 2014, our veterans programme has placed over 725 advanced and standard consultants within our impressive FTSE 100 client base. The programme recruits service leavers, serving reservists, military spouses and dependents, as well as recently opening our doors to former members of blue light services, including previous members of foreign military and police officers. Recruiting from all these different backgrounds provides a diverse talent pool for our clients, which, in turn, leads to better-rounded teams.

FDM’s programme offers a number of pathways. For standard consultants, normally those with less than 10 years of service, we have both technical and business pathways. And, for our advanced consultants, typically those that have served for more than 10 years, we have the advanced pathway. This helps them hone their transferable skills and introduces them to the principles of the Software Development Lifecycle and project management in a commercial environment, allowing them to act as management consultants when working on client sites.

Our consultants are highly skilled and demonstrate valuable transferable skills that they bring from their time in the military, including critical thinking, resilience, leadership attributes, management acumen, stakeholder and conflict management. This makes them the perfect fit for a variety of positions.

Support and development for ex-forces

Support and development initiatives are crucial for all employees, even more so for ex-forces. At FDM, we provide the necessary support and development programmes for our veteran consultants to help them throughout their new careers and make their transition into their new roles as seamless as possible. This includes wellbeing programmes, mentoring, virtual training and online collaboration platforms.

With the right support in place, ex-forces have everything they need to thrive and make valuable contributions within the corporate world.

Are you looking to close your skills gap and hire some of the best talent the country has to offer? Check out our consultant services or get in touch for more information.

About Ex-Forces Careers Team

The FDM Ex-Forces team is a dedicated group of ex-service personnel working closely with the veteran community. The aim is to provide a soft landing for those leaving or who have left the forces and facilitate their transition into a meaningful second career. Designed by veterans for veterans over 750 ex-forces personnel have been through our award winning since its inception in 2014. The FDM-Forces Programme caters for all ranks and across the three services providing expert training, ongoing support and hands-on experience with industry-leading clients.


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