Representatives from more than 50 businesses took the first step in learning more about the benefits of employing an ex-service member or reservist at an event held in Plymouth earlier this month.
Hosted by Shadow Defence Minister Alison Seabeck MP at 29 Cdo Regt RA, The Royal Citadel, the conference was organised by the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement [AFTER] programme, and highlighted the support available to equip people with the skills and resources they need to build careers outside of the military.
Opening the event, Alison Seabeck said: “I was really pleased to see so many Plymouth-based employers attending the event to hear about what veterans can bring to their businesses. The AFTER programme offers support and guidance from people with experience. Importantly, employers were also encouraged to consider supporting staff members who might want to join the Reserve Force.”
Barclays Programme Manager, Kevin Gartside, who served in The Royal Regiment of Scotland, spoke about the bank’s AFTER programme, which has provided former service personnel in excess of 250 work experience placements and seen 71 veterans hired into full-time positions with Barclays since 2013.
Working with the Ministry of Defence and service charities Barclays also funds training courses to provide soldiers, sailors and RAF personnel with essential employment skills. The audience heard from representatives from the Career Transition Partnership, the military and South West SaBRE Director, Jon Beake, who along with two reservists, highlighted the benefits of employing local staff who undertake military training in their spare time.
Jon also highlighted the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Awards that businesses and employers could gain from supporting the Armed Forces Community through the Corporate Covenant, he added: “The number of businesses signing voluntary pledges of support in their own Corporate Covenant, much like Barclays have done, is very encouraging, they can clearly see the benefits. In 2014, the first year of the scheme, around 300 employers across the UK gained ERS Awards for their support; the Plymouth area had 5 Bronze Award recipients and 2 Silver, and I look forward to working closely with more businesses in 2015.”
Closing the event, Oliver Colvile MP, backed the programme and urged the business community to draw on the wealth of experience veterans and reservists offer when hiring staff locally. He said; The Barclays AFTER programme is offering an incredibly important service to former armed forces personnel during a very difficult transitional period.
I was particularly captivated by Barclays Programme Manager, Kevin Gartside, who was a late stand in for Stuart Tootal. Kevin was prime example of someone who had been through the programme and come out the other side ready to carry on his personal and professional development. I look forward to working with Barclays as they look to move forward and help even more service personnel.”