Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood MP says we must challenge false perceptions of veterans.
Tobias Ellwood, a former Army officer, said: “That is a real challenge that we have, because too many people out there think because we served we are damaged.”
The Minister made his comments at the Officers’ Association Careers Forum, hosted by Deloitte UK, where over 140 serving and former military officers discovered the civilian career opportunities available to them. In addition to the Minister, attendees heard from many of the UK’s leading employers and career experts on a broad range of industries, including financial services, cyber security and construction. The aim of the event was to show attendees how to maximise their post-military opportunities.
The MP’s concerns about the public’s perception of veterans are supported by a YouGov poll commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and the Ministry of Defence. The survey found that an alarming 64% of civilians think that veterans are more likely to suffer from more mental, physical and emotional issues than those who have never served.
However, the reality is that veterans are resilient and are more likely to be employed, according to a major new study by the Veterans Work consortium. The recent Veterans Work: Moving On report, produced by Deloitte, the Officers’ Association and Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has shown that veteran employment rates at 81% are far higher than the national average of 75.5%.
The Minister praised the officer community and stated that they offered great commercial value to employers. He said: “You’re leaders; you know all about teamwork, you’ve grit, tenacity and determination. You may start at 9 o clock in the morning, you won’t finish at five, you’ll finish when the job is done. You have a sense of determination. […] Now who would not want to have those skillsets?”
He added: “But if you’ve done three tours of Afghanistan, how do you actually put that on your CV and get somebody who knows nothing about the Armed Forces to realise what skillsets you’ve got? And that’s where the Officers’ Association comes in and does an amazing job in turning people who are fantastic warriors into people that can then work on civvy street.”
Lee Holloway, CEO of the OA said: “All Service leavers have skills and abilities much sought after by British businesses. Whilst employers recognise this, the OA will continue to champion the value and benefit of this military experience so that veterans are able to capitalise on their time in the Armed Forces.”
Chris Recchia, Partner at Deloitte and Chair of the Veterans Work Consortium, said: “Our recent study found veterans are highly employable due to the hard work, determination, flexibility in where they work and critically, a willingness to try a whole new career.”