50+ Service Leavers
Make Strong Hires

Posted: 3rd Oct 2020

OA Employment Director Laura Blair explains why 50+ Service leavers have the robustness and ability to ‘get the job done'.

The Officers’ Association (OA) works to connect the officer job seeker with employers through all stages of their career; transitioning from the military to a second or third career move within the civilian employment market.

The one age group that consistently stands out as experiencing increased difficulties in finding civilian work are those aged 50+.

In April this year, we published one of the first reports to examine why this was the case.

Funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and carried out by the Centre for Research into Older Workers (CROW) on our behalf; Understanding Service Leavers Aged 50+ defines the challenges facing this demographic, across all ranks, when looking for civilian work.

The research uncovered a real disparity in the experiences of those leaving after a 12-year commission and those transitioning after 24 years or more. Much of it appears to arise through misperception and disinformation.

Addressing this disparity requires a redoubling of efforts to communicate, clearly and loudly, across business and industry, the significant benefits of hiring a 50+ Service leaver.

As former RAF Officer Steve Harpum explained to report co-author Matt Flynn, although you have the exact transferable leadership and managerial skills to work in an organisation like the NHS, unless you “ make the right connections and network”, you may be invisible as a 50+ leaver to potential employers.

While many civilian employers will recognise that a military Service leaver is emerging as an individual from one of the world’s most highly trained workforce, there is a tendency to assume that the 50+ Service leaver will be too entrenched in military protocol and procedure to be flexible or accommodating in a new role.

The OA is keen to redress these misconceptions to help individuals like Steve Harpum. We champion the breadth of skills Service leavers possess; leadership, initiative, ability to work under pressure, creativity, effective communication and resilience that exists in abundance in this valuable demographic.

Maturity and longevity of military service correlate precisely to increased flexibility and communicating this to employers is vital, as is reminding this talent set themselves, of their transferable skills, robustness and ability to ‘get the job done.’

As the researchers discovered, 41% of those interviewed had applied for work below their skill levels, so boosting the confidence of this age group is key in going forward.

The report also found that 1 in 4 employers do not consider Service experience relevant to their industries, however 49% of employers agreed that 50+ Service leavers have skills their business can benefit from.

While these statistics may appear to be quite contradictory, they illuminate just how organisations like the OA, can make an impact by working directly with employers and emboldening Service leavers to embrace their experience and promote their abilities.

Reassuringly, 85% of those interviewed by CROW found their civilian jobs interesting, but our ambition is to boost this number still further, using our expert career consultants to provide advice, guidance and support.

If retired Submarine Engineer Captain Mick Abbey, with 37 years’ service can transfer his skill set seamlessly and successfully to industry, citing his biggest challenge as ‘Which tie and shirt to choose in the morning’, it is clear that the 50+ leaver skills are in demand, now more than ever, in this emerging, complex Covid economy.

The OA will run a virtual seminar on October 13 to provide practical advice and employer insight exclusively aimed at the 50+ Job Seeker.

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