Leaving the Armed forces is never a decision that is taken lightly. Whether personnel have served several years and want to try something new, are leaving because of injury, have decided the military isn't the career for them, or have been made redundant; there are many reasons a career in the military may come to an end.
Every year around 24,000 personnel leave the Armed forces. It is currently estimated that at least 50,000 of the current 2.5 million unemployed in the UK have served in the military. There are several reasons for this, but it is widely believed that there are stereotypical prejudices from some employers towards ex-military personnel. Many recruitment companies simply view them as ‘squaddies’: they don’t understand the difference between the many and varied military roles, and there is no comprehension of the skillset these personnel can bring to a role.
Not all companies have this view, however. It has recently been announced that telecommunications company BT are to recruit 400 new engineers for their Openreach division, with most of these positions expected to be filled by ex-Armed forces personnel. This recruitment drive will see the total number of engineers hired in 2012 rise to more than 1000: a welcome change to the relentless stories of unemployment in the current UK climate.
The workforce will be composed of engineers who will be prepared to work wherever required, meaning greater flexibility for Openreach, as well as providing opportunities to ex-forces personnel who are based all over the UK.
Olivia Garfield, Openreach CEO, said of the announcement, “These are challenging economic times so I’m delighted to be able to recruit these extra engineers. Our engineers are doing a fantastic job keeping the copper network in shape, as well as deploying fibre at breakneck speed, and the new recruits will help us go even further, faster.”
Openreach has recruited many hundreds of engineers who are ex-Armed forces personnel over the past two years and is keen to fill many of the new roles with such people once again. It is widely understood that the quality of engineering training, experience and expertise gained in the Armed forces remain unsurpassed and can bring enormous advantages to the civilian sector. Personnel have the benefit of knowing how to work within large organisational structures, and they are more likely to understand the practicalities of project development, operation and completion.
The announcement was welcomed by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport, who described it as “good news not only for the 400 people who secure one of the new jobs but for the whole of the country. BT is creating jobs while rolling-out the digital infrastructure UK businesses need to grow.”