There’s been a lot of talk about the skills gap in the UK jobs market. That is the gulf existing between the skills that employers and the UK economy as a whole requires and those that the current and near-future workforce possesses.
Forces Leavers looking to make the transition to the civilian jobs market should already have an advantage. According to recent reports by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), school-leavers and untrained jobseekers in the UK rank as the worst in Europe for their levels of essential skills. This includes literacy, numeracy and basic problem-solving.
Ex-military personnel are likely to have a wide array of so-called “soft skills”, such as communication, decision-making and problem-solving and these should be identified and flagged up to potential employers.
As well as basic essential skills, there is also a major skills gap in the specific area of the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mechanics. According to the Engineering UK Report 2015, 56,000 engineering technicians will be required every year between now and 2022. There is currently an annual shortfall of around 30,000. Similarly, there is a critical skills gap in IT, with 45% of UK businesses saying that a lack of IT talent is hampering productivity.
Some companies have been actively pursuing the potential skills gold mine of service leaders. Vodafone set up a simplified recruitment process for Royal Corps of Signals’ Service Leavers, while IBM launched a scheme aimed at training ex-military as digital security specialists.
Depending on his or her role in the Forces, an individual might already have technical skills that are directly transferable or that can be quickly and easily converted. Even if not, for those thinking of retraining for the civilian jobs market, it might be worth keeping the skills gap in mind.