Veterans guaranteed interviews for civil service jobs

Experts advise further support may be needed to help employers translate military skills to business environments

The government has announced military veterans will be guaranteed interviews for civil service roles, in a move designed to improve their job prospects and open up all levels of government to them.

As part of a pilot for the scheme, veterans applying for roles in the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and the Home Office – including the UK Border Force – will automatically be offered an interview as long as they meet a basic minimum criteria during the selection phase.

Johnny Mercer, minister for defence people and veterans, said: “Service personnel are agile, strategic and excellent team players – a guaranteed interview will shine a light on these skills and help boost job prospects.

“Those who’ve worked in the British Armed Forces are among the brightest and the best, and so it is right we draw upon this talent.”

Veterans can take advantage of the guaranteed interview offer as soon as they leave service, with no upper time limit on their eligibility after leaving the forces.

Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said veterans are not always recognised by businesses who are “missing out” on a significant talent pool. “Veterans will typically have many transferable skills which are valuable to business, such as strategic thinking, leadership and problem solving,” she said.

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But, Miller added: “Both veterans and employers may need help to understand and translate the relevance of skills and experience obtained serving in the forces to a business environment. This is essential in the hiring process to fully appreciate the value an individual brings to the organisation.”

Nicola Inge, employment and skills campaign director at Business in the Community, welcomed any efforts to help make the transition from a military to civilian career “more seamless” for veterans. She said many ex-military personnel faced “challenges in translating the skills and experience they’ve gained in the military into a civilian context”.

“Employers need to be mindful of this and think more widely about how they can bridge the gap to ensure they’re tapping into the talent available,” Inge said.

“We are also calling on decision makers across the civil service to see how they could build on this approach to expand into other groups often excluded from employment opportunities,  such as those who are long-term unemployed or homeless, to create more inclusive opportunities.”

The initiative is being run by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, a branch of the Cabinet Office launched in July to coordinate all government departments in supporting UK veterans. The programme is one of several manifesto commitments made by the government to support veterans.

The new scheme also builds on the recently launched Going Forward into Employment Programme, which helps veterans and their spouses into junior roles in the civil service.

Gemma Wright, armed forces programme lead at NHS Employers, said the initiative is a “great step forward”.

“Historically people coming out of the forces are asked to just build CVs. Quite often [they’re not encouraged to] think about how they can transfer their skills and experiences into competency based examples, or that they can translate [these] across multiple industries,” Wright said. She added, however, that she would be interested to see how the scheme worked in practice.

NHS Employers is already working to help employers and recruiters within the health service recruit from the ex-military community, and provides managers with a recruiting toolkit and one-on-one support.

Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive of armed forces charity SSAFA, said: “We will continue to support and advise in any way we can to ensure the value offered by those who have served in the armed forces is both recognised and maximised.

“For those who need support, we are here to help get them back on their feet and our mentoring through transition programme means we can meet the need now and in the future."