Understanding Service Leavers 50+

Posted: 12th May 2020

Over a third of veterans aged 50+ experience discrimination when looking for work.

New research published by the Officers' Association has found that despite the skills and experiences ex-services personnel offer, over a third of 50+ Service leavers reported experiencing ageism, anti-military bias or both, when looking for civilian work and 1 in 5 are working in non-permanent positions such as casual employment, some because they are unable to find sustainable long-term employment.

The published research: Understanding Service Leavers aged 50+  was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and delivered by the Centre for Older Workers (CROW) for the Officers’ Association (OA) and represents the results of a series of intensive interviews and workshops.

This timely project investigates the experiences and attitudes of Service leavers aged 50+ as they transition from military to civilian employment, exploring the challenges faced across all ranks. The report comes at a vital time where the Coronavirus pandemic has made the job market extremely uncertain but where firms will need the versatility and skills of ex-services personnel to help their recovery.

The report calls for a consolidated approach between our Armed Forces, MOD, employers and charitable stakeholders in developing a programme to enable older workers to find the right arrangements for their final years of work. It advocates an extension of diversity and inclusion policies and practices to help combat bias against 50+ Service leavers. Furthermore, The Centre for Ageing Better reports that over 800,000 people in the UK aged between 50 and 65 want to be working but are not, and that getting them into the right employment could contribute £18 billion worth of GDP. Fixing this could unlock significant benefits for the UK economy as it looks to rebuild in the aftermath of the Covid-19 economic shock.

Lee Holloway, CEO, Officers' Association commented:

“One age group consistently stands out as experiencing increased difficulties in moving from military to civilian employment – those aged 50 years and over. While there is a growing body of evidence testifying to the barriers facing all veterans seeking employment, none has examined the hurdles faced by this age group. More needs to be done to align the needs of older veterans available and wanting to work for longer with the quality and diversity of the work on offer. This report adds to the recent momentum in wider society of supporting and highlighting the special skills and experiences of our country’s veterans, now we must support them as they have supported us.”

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust commented:

“This research adds to a strong body of evidence which shows that many employers are not capitalising on the experience and skills of Service leavers. This report shows that businesses are missing out on the valuable skills gained from a long and successful career in the military, often due to employers’ misguided perceptions of military and age. While Service leavers need to take the time to prepare themselves for the civilian job market, more needs to be done to help them to do this. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because it makes good business sense."

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans commented:

‘Thank you to the OA and FiMT for this report as we welcome all research into the outcomes of all our people when they leave the Armed Forces. I want to make the UK the best place in the world to be a Veteran irrespective of age and we will use this report to see how we can further improve the service for those who leave the military over the age of 50.’

To download the report visit:

To discuss the findings and next steps, please contact: A.Hodson@officersassocation.org.uk

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