New industries and new opportunities for veterans and their loved ones

Covid-19 hit the economy hard. As a targeted response to the impact the pandemic had on employment, RFEA (part of the Forces Employment Charity) is now offering a brand new programme, the EM3 Veterans and Families Programme, to provide support to veterans, military partners and, for the first time, their children. Joanne McLeod, EM3 Programme Manager for RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity, explains what the programme involves and how it can help.

The skills needed for a career in the Armed Forces make ex-servicemen and women an incredible addition to the civilian workforce, but veterans, as well as their families, can face a unique set of challenges that can sometimes make it difficult to fully make the most of their potential.

The pandemic has also added an additional level of complexity, with huge swathes of industries having been massively disrupted. The good news is that there is help and many new options becoming available, and RFEA is there to support people with finding an opportunity that is right for them. Everyone has skills and the key is recognising what they are and how they can be transferred to a role.

Tapping into new industries

The EM3 Veterans and Families Programme focuses on growing a skilled population in digital enterprises, medical technology, medical science, gaming, sustainable construction and the space and satellite industries. It aims to provide specialist employment support to aid economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Specialist knowledge and insight

As an Enterprise M3 initiative, EM3 Veterans and Families programme supports those in the Surrey and Hampshire areas and as such the team are based in and operate around the M3 corridor.

RFEA teams understand the needs of the Armed Forces community and caseworkers, therefore, work to provide support that is tailored to the individual participants’ needs.

The EM3 team is vast and comprises a range of specialist advisors who all have tremendous amounts of life experience as spouses and veterans, as well as professional experience within the Forces employment sector. As such, they are able to draw upon their own life experiences whilst raising the aspirations of others.

For instance, children from Armed Forces Families often face challenges in their schooling such as frequent relocation – the EM3 team can help them upskill and gain employment in areas that they might not be aware of, like gaming!

Team specialists include:

  • young persons caseworker
  • veterans caseworkers
  • spouse caseworker
  • skills and curriculum liaison
  • schools liaison
  • employer liaison
  • programme manager

What the programme offers

A combination of practical employment support, accredited training, corporate mentoring, and work experience is offered to participants to provide the best possible routes to accessing sustainable employment in emerging technologies and peripheral sectors.

What to expect

  • Anyone seeking support or further information about the EM3 programme can find out more by visiting
  • An Advisor will be in touch to find out more about your situation and how your job search is going.
  • Your advisor will carry out a ‘needs assessment’ which will help them understand any barriers to employment relating to issues such as health, housing, debt etc. If any additional needs are identified, your Advisor will then be able to refer you to other organisations that can provide the relevant help required.
  • EM3 Advisors can then help develop your employability to present you to employers in the best possible way. That can involve advice on what to apply for, how to find work and develop a good CV, interview skills, training, etc.

Partnership working

To deliver the programme and to offer the best opportunities and outcomes for participants, we are working with a range of partners including TechVets, Building Heroes, X-Forces, and the University of Winchester. We are also working with employer partners in skilled sectors such as construction, digital and technology, and space and satellite organisations.

The programme has so far facilitated Microsoft Skills virtual classes, Python language workshops, start-up skills classes, cyber skills training and self-employment discovery.

Top tips for finding a job in a new sector

Looking for a role in an entirely new sector can be daunting and it can be hard to know where to start, but it’s important to know that you aren’t on your own and that there is plenty of help out there to get you started. Here are just a few tips to get you thinking:

  1. Think about when you were last happy at work. This is a really helpful exercise as it often generates some unexpected results. When asked this question, I have heard of clients having to think back to 20 years ago, or more, to come up with a time when they felt happy in their job. It’s a simple question that can make for a terrific starting point, as it helps you recognise the factors that give you a feeling of job satisfaction – and they may not be status or salary.
  2. Identify what it is you want to do so you can pinpoint what skills you need. Now that you have identified when you were last happy at work, research sectors that allow you to do the things that make you happy. For example, if you really enjoyed the sociability of your last job perhaps a job in the events sector is the right place for you now. So research available jobs in the events industry and identify what skills are needed for those jobs.
  3. Engage with the sector and find organisations with connections to the area you’re interested in. Doing this can give you an unprecedented understanding of the intricacies of the sector, allowing you to deepen your knowledge and hone your skills. You can do this by following organisations and connecting with others on social networking platforms such as LinkedIn.
  4. Engage with a careers advisor so they can help you tailor your CV. Did you know that you need to tailor your CV for each job you apply for? A careers advisor would! Careers advisors help you tailor and sometimes rewrite your CV to boost your chances of being contacted for an interview. So find a person or an organisation (like RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity) who can do this for you.
  5. Be honest about your qualifications and be honest with your interviewer. Always be honest about your qualifications and skills. Job descriptions can make it seem like it’s impossible to land a job without specific qualifications but that is not always the case. So always be honest and clear about the qualifications you possess and the ones you don’t.
  6. Don’t forget to ask questions. Interviews can seem like a one-way process, but they aren’t! An interview is about you and about the organisation interviewing. Questions help to get a conversation going and allow you and the interviewer to get to know each other better. Some useful questions could include “Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company?”, “What is the working culture of the company?” and “Can you tell me about the team I would be working in?”

Military spouse Jenny Monaghan sought support from RFEA and has since secured a new role. She says:

“My biggest challenge was the lack of confidence I had on returning to work after being on maternity leave and out of employment for two years. My CV was out of date, and I was struggling to find a job that would fit in around our military lifestyle and family. I was so anxious about returning to work, but my Advisor gave me the confidence to pursue the career I have always wanted.

She completely understood my concerns, given her Military background, and empathised with my situation. She really listened (which was so refreshing), helped give me the tools to give my CV an overhaul and adapt to the job I was applying for. Not only was she my personal cheerleader when I was feeling nervous for my interview, but she gave me everything I needed to prepare for it.

Not only did I get a job that I’m passionate about, but my mental health has significantly improved. This is something I never thought would be possible, but my confidence is going from strength to strength. I’m so excited for what our future holds.”

Further information

Are you ready to take the first step? Sign up at

This promising new initiative was created by Enterprise M3 Initiative (EM3) and funded by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) with the European Social Fund.


This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of Pathfinder magazine

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