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UK economy risks loss of £1.5bn by overlooking the value of ex-military skills in the workforce

Posted: 19th July 2017

• More than one in five (22%) service leavers will face employment challenges, resulting in a potential loss of £1.5bn to the economy according to new research from Barclays
• Ex-military could help to plug UK skills shortage, by filling one in six predicted vacancies
• Barclays urges employers to recognise the value that veterans can bring to the UK workforce

A new study from Barclays has revealed that the UK economy could suffer losses of up to £1.5bn in the next five years if service leavers aren’t able to find employment, or are under employed upon leaving the Armed Forces.

The research calculates the direct and indirect contribution of the up to 85,000 personnel that are estimated to leave the military by 2021; a figure which is equivalent to the number of people currently employed in the UK creative, arts and entertainment sector. While many veterans make a successful transition to civilian employment, the study predicts that one in 10 veterans (10%) will experience long term unemployment, and that a further 12% will be sub-optimally employed (where their skills are being under-utilised by employers).

Those employers that overlook ex-military when recruiting are failing to recognise the valuable skills and experience this cohort of highly talented individuals possesses, as well as the billions of pounds invested by the MOD in the training of military personnel. The impact of this could prove detrimental to the future growth of UK plc, at a time when bolstering the skilled workforce is crucial to securing the country’s economic future.

Around two thirds of employers are expected to experience deficits in soft skills within the next five years, with more than 600,000 jobs left unfilled. By deploying more ex-military personnel into civilian job roles, one in six of these vacancies could be filled, resulting in a contribution of £12.6bn to the UK economy. This is approximate to the annual production of the UK Pharmaceuticals industry.

Previous research conducted by Barclays has shown that many ex-military already face a number of significant challenges when applying for civilian work, many of which stem from a lack of understanding from prospective employers and colleagues alike about what military experience can offer the workforce.

Barclays, as a founding member of the Veterans Employment Transition Support (VETS) programme, is urging employers to see hiring veterans as a business imperative. VETS is formed of a coalition of willing companies, the MOD and leading military charities, who seek to work within existing transition support efforts to maximise employment outcomes for veterans and employers alike.

Nicholas Trowell, co-chair of the Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement (AFTER) Programme in Scotland, said: “A career in the military has many similarities to that in the commercial sector, yet some employers are still underestimating the value of veterans’ skills.

“This research underlines the importance of thinking beyond experience in order to plug crucial vacancies with capable individuals – and benefit from a new perspective at the same time.

“Programmes such as VETS and AFTER are designed to help employers harness the military skills that parallel those in the workplace more effectively.” Johnny Mercer MP, Plymouth, Moor View said: “This research by Barclays demonstrates the enormous value that ex-service personnel bring to the UK workforce and to the economy as a whole. I would be delighted to see businesses across the UK utilise the unique skills and experience of our ex-military service men and women, helping them to overcome the inevitable challenges that can come with returning to civilian life.”

Victor Olet, veteran said: “The assistance that I got from VETS really helped me manage the transition from military life. When I first started applying for jobs I had a low response rate from the businesses I was contacting, but the advice I was given about improving my CV really changed that. The VETS programme also really helped build my confidence ahead of job interviews.”

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