Engineering firms lure in Service leavers

ECTIB hosted a reception on the House of Commons terrace following the Service Leavers: Your Economy Needs You event. Image courtest of Paul Hudson.

Armed Services engineers intending to leave the Forces attended an event at the Royal Academy of Engineering today to explore opportunities to apply their experience in the private sector.

The Service Leavers: Your Economy Needs You! event at the Royal Academy of Engineering was organised by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board in association with the Talent Retention Solution and the Careers Transition Service.

The event was attended by approximately 140 armed services personnel who, for a variety of reasons, are planning to leave their current jobs.

Attendees all had engineering qualifications or experience and were at various stages in their careers.

At the event, they had the opportunity to talk to 20 exhibiting firms, mostly from the oil and gas and energy generation industries. There was also a series of lectures from leading engineers and ex-service personnel in private sector engineering roles and one-to-one meetings with who have successfully made a career switch were available to those who wanted them.

Armed services personnel looking to shift to the private sector should be courted by engineering firms says ECITB.
Armed services personnel looking to shift to the private sector should be courted by engineering firms says ECITB.

Exhibiting engineering and manufacturing firms included Alstom, EDF Energy, Doosan and Siemens.

Representatives manning the stands gave strong positive feedback on the quality and impact of the event with many saying they had prompted numerous submissions of interest in specific live job vacancies.

This was an important proof of value for an event which aimed to highlight the potential to leverage service leavers more effectively as a means of plugging immediate industry skills gaps.

Lyn Frankland, a tower technician at Siemens Wind Power who helped to man the Siemens stand at the event said some individuals had been so convinced by their company messaging that they had uploaded CVs to apply for jobs as the stood by Siemens’ exhibition.

Ms Frankland said that there had been notable interest in opportunities to work in Siemens renewable energy division “because they know there is a future in it”. Interestingly she also said that one of the most important aspects in exciting service leavers about opportunities with Siemens was talking about company values and the “family;-like” culture of the company.

Herself an ex-servicewoman Frankland said that most personnel leaving the armed forces seek to find a similar sense of camaraderie in their new careers.

ECITB and TRS aim to track the career destinations of those who attended yesterday’s event. “This will help us to understand if the model is successful and to find ways of improving it,” said ECITB CEO David Edwards.

A Commons interest

Supporters of TRS and advocates of skills retention were welcomed to the House of Commons

Following the careers event at the Royal Academy of Engineering ECITB hosted a reception at the House of Commons to celebrate the contribution of service leavers to the engineering and manufacturing industries and to promote further exploitation of this talent pool by the private sector.

Lord Willis of Knaresborough, an early champion of TRS, gave his patronage to the event.

Anticipating the 70th anniversary of D Day, Lord Knaresborough said that it was astonishing considering the many years of evidence displaying the engineering skills, tenacity and dedication of military personnel to their jobs that “we are only starting to wake up to the fact that military personnel have great skills which need to be transferred”.

Lord Knaresborough praised TRS for its commitment to “retain talent wherever possible,” and thanked Atkins, Finmeccanica, Selex ES and Semta chairman Allan Cook for his championship of the programme with employers.

Mr Cook was also thanked for his contribution to TRS and to the development of the engineering skills pipeline more widely by Lord Younger, parliamentary undersecretary for state for intellectual property and spokesman for BIS in the House of Commons.

Speaking frankly, Lord Younger said he believed “almost every government led skills initiative has basically failed,” because they were not led and owned by employers.

He continued to say that this is why TRS is succeeding and why he thinks it will continue to succeed to answering the immediate skills needs of industry.

Lord Younger made two major announcement about the development of TRS.

Firstly he revealed that aerospace giant Boeing had joined the board of employer sponsors which also includes Siemens, BAE Systems, ECITB, Shell, Airbus, EDF Energy, Rolls-Royce and British Glass.

Secondly, he told attendees at the House of Commons reception that TRS and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has agreed to formalise an existing relationship of support in a new partnership.