Ex-Forces don’t realise their value on Civvy Street

New research by RFEA shows veterans lack confidence in the skills their military experience can bring to the civilian workforce.

Around 15,000 people leave the UK Armed Forces every year,[1] having developed highly specialist and sought-after skills during their Forces career. Yet, after serving their country, many find it hard to recognise what could attract them to an employer now they are a civilian.

RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity, has carried out new research[2] which shows veterans are often too critical of themselves – lacking confidence in the skills their military experience has equipped them with and underestimating their potential as a result.

“This can lead to some individuals instantly disqualifying themselves from employment opportunities in which they could well have thrived.”

The findings showed:

  • 1 in 3 veterans (33%) struggle to identify their relevant skills and articulate them during an interview
  • 2 in 5 veterans (40%) would like guidance on how to better recognise the transferable skills they have
  • 1 in 3 veterans (33%) say they’d like help improving confidence levels around what they can ‘bring to the table’
  • 1 in 3 veterans (33%) say they would like help with funding for training and other career development opportunities
  • 1 in 3 veterans stated that they faced a lack of understanding amongst employers/ colleagues about how veterans’ skills from active duty and/ or Military qualifications translate into a business environment

Meanwhile, a third (33%) of those involved in making hiring decisions said that they would value additional information regarding the transferable skills and attributes that veterans can bring to the non-military workforce. Promisingly, 1 in 4 (25%) also stated that they would like more information on how hiring veterans can make good business sense and improve diversity in the workforce.

The charity asked employers and veterans to name the skills/ attributes that ex-Servicemen and women bring to the civilian workforce and found significant differences in what the two groups had to say:

  • 47% of civilians said veterans bring teamwork skills compared to only 31% of veterans
  • 50% of civilians thought veterans offer self-discipline to the workforce vs only 34% of veterans
  • 47% of civilians regarded veterans as being reliable, whereas only 33% of veterans suggested ex-Forces had this attribute
  • 43% of civilians regarded veterans as resilient, compared to only 28% of veterans

RFEA’s Chief Executive, Alistair Halliday, says: “A career in the Military develops so many important skills, such as resilience, accountability, teamwork and an ability to be trained. Whilst most veterans make the transition to ‘civvy’ street with relative ease, utilising the excellent support that is available through CTP, these results prove that veterans sometimes fail to appreciate the value they can bring to a civilian jobs market. So many organisations are crying out for these skills but might not immediately think to look at the veteran community to fill the many roles on offer. Clearly, there is some more work to be done so that all veterans and employers can recognise and make best use of the excellent attributes our Ex-Forces have to offer.”

He adds, “At RFEA we understand that the skills needed for a career in the Military make ex-Servicemen and women a superb addition to the civilian workforce, which is why our teams are so committed to supporting ex-Forces, and their loved ones, to find meaningful and fulfilling jobs. We provide an invaluable, 1-1 support service to make sure our clients have everything they need to showcase the value and relevance of their experience to civilian employers. By doing so, we bring about life-changing transformations for thousands of veterans, and their families, every year.”

[1] Ministry of Defence: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/quarterly-service-personnel-statistics-index

[2] Research carried out by OnePoll from 21.10.2021 – 28.10.21. It surveyed 1000 UK employed adults who have input into hiring decisions in their organisation, plus 200 UK veterans who are either employed or seeking employment.

Image: Crown Copyright. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
Photographer: LA(Phot) Dave Hillhouse

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