Army Careers?

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 - Article, career planning, credit crunch, Degree, discipline, economics, Education, Employment, government jobs, job hunting

Army Careers

RNAS Yeovilton Airday 2009

This evening, the BBC’s popular magazine programme The One Show had as its first article, the former ITV Loose Women presenter and notable journalist Kaye Adams reporting from Bridgend, on the issue of the British Armed Forces recruiting in economically deprived areas.

Adams interviewed two mothers – one of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, another still serving there – who were both wholly proud of their serving sons. She also interviewed two local boys – one of whom wanted to join but was turned down on medical grounds, and another who had just signed up – who both looked forward to the honour of serving, and what the Army could give them.

In the studio section of the article, Adams revealed that she and the mother of the killed soldier had had a far longer conversation. In it, Adams revealed that the mother felt that the British educational system had failed her son, and that an Army career had been the making of the man. She felt that the fact her son had died serving his country was more honourable and something for which she was wholly proud, compared to the alternate of signing on the dole, drinking alcohol or taking drugs and possibly turning to crime. Adams also revealed that in 2009 Army recruitment was up 8.2% on 2008, with most recruits citing the challenges a forces career provided, the adventure, and the skills and qualifications that were in built to such a choice. Adams also revealed that the Army had made 50 more visits to what were defined as lower quartile income areas, over upper income quartile areas.

Army training

As a recruiter, the Army offers a number of career options, not just soldier, sailor or pilot. The quality of the training is excellent, although as a recruiter I will say the service which offers the easiest move later to civvy street is the Royal Air Force, where the high-tech maintenance skills and training are highly regarded in many markets. The telecommunications and project management skills of all forces are also highly sought by commercial organisations. After this point, some of the skills are highly regarded, but generally by organisations who wish to sell to the Armed Forces over more generalist companies. If you are a soon to be ex-forces serving member, before leaving, check your skills on civvy street, and choose your exit training carefully to make sure your skills are more easily transferable.

What about Adams article proposition that the Armed Forces are targeting economically deprived areas? Personally travelling the First Great Western railway regularly, I see far more “Join the Army” adverts in the South Wales Echo in a month, than I would in the Evening Standard in a quarter. Often you find the occasional regional daily from along the line left by a fellow commuter, and one could almost come to the conclusion that the recruitment focus is Wales over the rest of the route. However, countering this personally if I was recruiting for the Armed Forces, would be that the Welsh are more traditional in thought and far more rooted as a people, over those in the rest of the UK. London is like a world apart from a far more sure footed Cardiff, and its one of the main reasons I choose to move back down here.

However, none of this really concerns me. Perhaps the Armed Forces are targeting lower income communities, and perhaps the sign-up rate in Wales is greater. Yet, we still have a wholly voluntary Armed Forces, so it is the recruits choice to sign up versus getting on their bicycle like Norman Tebbit once suggested.

Army Support

What really concerns me is the level of the age old contract presently being maintained between the country and its armed forces, both in terms of supply of the right equipment, and then the after care once these wholly honourable people come back from a campaign or come out of the Army. I write this on the day that the Ministry of Defence legally challenged two soldiers rights to post-service medical support.

Up until the middle of 2008, we recruited people whom we trained as HGV drivers: there is an excess of drivers in the recession, so our programme is presently on hold. The ex-Army people were an excellent input to this scheme, scarily-so compared to our average driver let alone recruit being on time, reliable and efficient. The only problem we had with them was that regularly, the scene of a six-foot ex-Royal Marine regularly crying on your shoulder for a straight business owner was harrowing. Most of them were haunted by their experiences, and the after care was wholly missing – we hence often paid for it.

I have a friend who’s son is considering joining the Armed Forces. His logic is that he having seen his sister struggle to gain employment in this economy, and after studying for three years and having built up a large debt, he doesn’t want to do the same himself. He feels that by joining the Armed Forces, he will get the skills, qualifications and experiences – free from debt. He will then have a good base in life which on exiting he can enjoy on civvy street. I gave my friends the thoughts here I have shared with you on post-Armed Forces transferable skills.

Perhaps the reality of our new economy is not that the British Armed Forces are targeting low income areas. Perhaps it is that those who don’t fancy a long period of economic depression on civvy street and do see the advantages of the excellent training the Armed Forces provide, are making what they see as a positive choice for their own future.

I just hope those of us who choose to stay in civilian life – or are too old these days to make the choice – can ensure that the long term contract can be maintained by the politicians, who presently seem to treat this subject like one would a football.

One last thought: if you think like I do that the Government is not presently maintaining the duty of care contract for our Armed Forces, then visit the Help for Heros and make them a donation – Thank You!


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