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Will the Armed Forces’ effort to assist the Government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shine a much-needed light on the value that veterans can add to a civilian workforce?

As we adapt the way we work and live our lives in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a lot of debate about how this might change our lives forever going forward.  The British Armed Forces have stepped up to help support public services, putting forward 10,000 personnel from various branches as part of a new COVID Support Force.  My colleague, Tom Spearpoint, recently blogged about the Armed Forces being at their best in these unprecedented times, but will the good work that they have been doing help to breakdown the stereotypes and perceptions civilian employers have on veterans?

What are civilian employer’s perceptions on veterans?

A survey prepared for Forces in Mind Trust showed that 18% of those with hiring responsibilities would be less likely to hire a veteran.  Of those surveyed 44% believed that veterans did not have the relevant skills or experience for civilian roles.  This represents a misunderstanding of a career in the forces and what can be gained from hiring a veteran.  Some thought that their skills might not translate into a business environment or that their education did not match up.

Shockingly, a survey ran by Barclays showed that 25% of veterans felt that an interviewer had preconceptions about them because of their time in the Armed Forces.  It also revealed that 15% of veterans had been asked invasive and inappropriate questions in interview, such as whether they had ever killed anyone in combat.  This coupled with the fact that there remains a public perception that service leavers are more likely to suffer with mental, physical and emotional issues indicates that service leavers are already on the back foot when trying to find civilian employment.  Many veterans who do then find employment are under-employed where their skill sets are not being utilised by employers.

What transferable skills do veterans have?

Regardless of trade and how long a veteran has served for, employers can expect a service leaver to have most if not all of the following transferable skills:

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Technical skills
  • Sought after personal qualities such as reliability, resourcefulness and resilience
  • Interpersonal skills

I have seen many of our clients have all of the above skills and more and I am often left wondering why civilian employers have negative perceptions of those that have served.

So how might the pandemic help veterans into employment?

As my colleague, Tom Spearpoint, points out, our Armed Forces have a wide range of skills that can be used in planning, building, logistics and much more.  As the good work that our Armed Forces are doing is thrust into the spotlight, hopefully civilian employers will start to see that those that have served have more to offer than they once thought, shining a light on not only technical skills but also soft, transferable skills too.

Charlotte Jose is a paralegal in Bolt Burdon Kemp’s Military Claims Team.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Charlotte free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4853 or at  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Military team will contact you.  Find out more about the Military Claims team.

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