Derek Johnson-Brown

April 11, 2018

Armed Services veterans are almost twice as likely to be unemployed, compared to the civilian population. In 2014 that equated to around 120,000 unemployed working age veterans.

A Government report authored by Lord Ashcroft found that nine out of 10 people believed it was ‘common for those leaving the forces to have been physically, mentally or emotionally damaged by their service career. This view is mistaken and has the effect of restricting service-leavers’ prospects in civilian life.’ I couldn’t agree more.

I believe service-leavers constitute a huge pool of highly dedicated, driven and decisive potential employees. And this isn’t just theory: I was one of them.

Challenges and misperceptions

I left the Army in 1989 after six years. I spent the following 12 months in and out of jobs – 18 in total. I was experiencing total culture shock. Civvy life involved a different sense of humour, and a lack of loyalty – particularly from managers and employers. In the Army, a colleague is a mate for life. Employers didn’t seem to care what happened once I’d left the office. The difference in the level of care was incredibly demoralising.

It’s time we scrapped the prevailing perception of service-leavers. To succeed in the Forces, you must have a keen sense of loyalty, iron-clad shared values, and finely-tuned skills that can be performed under pressure. Always-on and often highly capable, those who serve are process-driven, disciplined and used to working closely together, often to protect lives. Some employers already recognise this potential and have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, but more is needed.

Tomorrow’s smart metering engineers

At Vallum, we’re approaching our network within the energy sector to place service-leavers in skilled roles, including as smart meter engineers. To date, more than 11 million smart and advanced meters have been installed across the UK – with a target of 50 million by 2020. The current challenge is meeting this demand with trained dual-fuel installation engineers by upskilling existing engineers and attracting new talent into the industry. We’re asking our corporate partners – particularly energy suppliers – to consider service-leavers.

How it works

We’re partnering with East Training, the UK’s leading smart meter training provider. We’re also in discussions with our network to find placements for candidates to complete their training through ‘buddy-buddy’ shadowing. Part-funded by the energy supplier and the candidate themselves, the ambition is to secure roles for successfully trained smart meter engineers, supported by veteran and Services charities.

I’m proud to be part of something that will transform the futures of veterans who are experiencing the same challenges transitioning into civilian life that I did. Eventually I found a role at Time Computers through playing football, which led to me becoming fully integrated into corporate life. Calm under fire, decisive and mouldable, ex-Forces people represent a ready-made pool of employees.

Together, we can help service-leavers find themselves in a skilled career where they can thrive – and be a valuable asset to your organisation.

Venture further with Vallum.Contact me to find out more about our Armed Forces programme – email djb@vallum.co.uk or call 07787 430889.

Derek Johnson-Brown