Post-Brexit recruitment crisis: could armed forces veterans save your business?

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Ex-military candidates are frequently overlooked in the job market, but with the talent pipeline facing its biggest challenge yet thanks to Brexit, they could be just the solution that UK businesses need.

As businesses worldwide evolve to keep up with Silicon Valley, data breaches and cyber attacks are an increasingly common issue for employers.

The shifts taking place in the UK’s labour market are practically seismic and with Brexit imminent, the recruitment pipeline for UK businesses remains worryingly unclear.

In order to survive, employers need to get creative with their recruitment and training processes. Could hiring armed forces veterans be part of the solution?

The UK faces a dire skills shortage

It is no secret that the country faces a skills shortage that most employers believe will worsen following Brexit. Importing highly skilled workers may not be a viable option in the near future.

From finance to hospitality, the skills gap is already hitting businesses with the services sector topping the list of the industries most at risk. The tech industry is particularly feeling the pressure, with employers facing recruitment difficulties at all levels.

Events such as WannaCry, the worldwide ransomware cyber attack in May 2017 that hit NHS trusts, demonstrate the disastrous consequences of a shortage in technological skills can have. This is likely to be just the beginning as it has been predicted that the UK will face a cyber security skills gap of two million workers by 2019.

Veterans: an untapped resource?

Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, 15,170 people left the UK’s armed forces, each with their own set of highly desirable skills.

Some will have skills in telecommunications, some in engineering, others in leadership and management. What they all will most likely have in common is still being of working age, highly motivated and determined to succeed in the civilian market place.

Armed forces veterans respond well to training, are resilient to stress, quick to learn new skills and hold values such as reliability, honesty and selflessness close to their hearts.

These veterans represent a huge missed opportunity for employers. Whilst the UK’s military has an official resettlement provider, the Careers Transition Partnership (CTP), which provides a great level of support, more than 22% of armed forces veterans still face employment challenges. Incredibly, they are also over twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population.

There are also charities such as The British Legion and The White Ensign Association that provide a great resource of advice, guidance and job vacancies for armed forces veterans, yet it seems contrary that such highly skilled professionals depend on their support. The reality is that veterans are a gift to the private sector companies that are willing to think outside of the box.

Is your business missing out on the best candidates?

Armed forces veterans respond well to training, are resilient to stress, quick to learn new skills and hold values such as reliability, honesty and selflessness close to their hearts.

Many have leadership and management skills that are hard to find in the civilian workforce, with it being common for a veteran to have had experience of managing groups from ten to hundreds of personnel on live operations in the UK and abroad.

When it comes to roles in cyber security, veterans are ideal candidates for several reasons. They have many transferrable skills from their specialist experience gained within the military (technicians, signallers, intelligence analysts).

By looking for untapped resources, groups of people who are frequently overlooked, and seeing how their ‘soft skills’ could benefit the company, employers can ensure their recruitment pipeline is primed for survival.

They are composed and collected when it comes to stressful and complex situations. They also possess the personable soft skills necessary to clearly explain possible threats to somebody who has little technical knowledge.

Those with military experience are trained to think and assess situations in terms of first, second and third order consequences, and constantly question the potential outcomes of any decisions they make. Skills like this are extremely valuable when trying to curtail a possible attack whilst ensuring that all eventualities are planned for.

Look to the future

Savvy employers should be looking to the future to safeguard their businesses.

As a whole, the UK is a long way from having a reliable, highly skilled and fit for purpose cyber workforce, whilst cyber attacks on businesses are mounting.

According to government research, 43% of businesses experienced a cyber attack or breach in the last 12 months, and the figure rises to 72% for businesses with over 250 employees.

Our country is known for its creativity and grit, especially under pressure. UK employers can rise to the challenge by casting a more creative eye over their hiring process and the roles that they want to fill.

By looking for untapped resources, groups of people who are frequently overlooked, and seeing how their ‘soft skills’ could benefit the company, employers can ensure their recruitment pipeline is primed for survival.

The skills gap, then, is not just about employers struggling to recruit the right people. It extends to issues such as the economy and the security of the country’s infrastructure. Employers now have an opportunity to be the unlikely hero of the story – by recruiting and training ex-military candidates that they may have previously overlooked.

To find out more about why ex-military personnel make great employees, read Why you can't hire your way around the soft skills gap.

About Neil Williams

neil williams

About Neil Williams
Neil Williams is the CEO and founder of Crucial Group, a technology services company that provides training, cyber security consultancy and global recruitment for advanced technology markets. As part of its services, Crucial provides its corporate partners with a future-proofed resource of cyber security staff by offering accredited courses free of charge to ex-military personnel at its state-of-the-art academy.
 

Prior to founding Crucial, Neil served as an Officer in the Royal Marines and held several senior positions during his career including operational deployments around the world.  After his service, Neil founded Crucial with the goal of helping former military personnel into meaningful civilian careers whilst meeting the burgeoning cyber security demands of businesses.

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