Future priorities - making Scotland the destination of choice
Scotland is a society that holds the Armed Forces in high esteem. With high living standards and close-knit communities who recognise the value of military service, Scotland has become home to many personnel, veterans and their families.
We are proud of our track record, delivered collaboratively with strategic partners in the public, third and private sectors. But there is always more we can do.
Our ambition is to make Scotland the destination of choice for those leaving the military who can decide to settle here and enjoy fulfilling lives, contributing to our society. We commit to promote our defence community as a true asset to Scotland, recognising the contribution that Regular and Reserve personnel, the civilian workforce, veterans and their families bring to our society, through their skills and public service ethos.
We reaffirm and renew our 2012 commitments, and we will inject fresh energy to make Scotland the most attractive place to be for those leaving Service life - offering good jobs, affordable homes and excellent public services. We will focus on a set of priorities which will guide the agenda in a variety of ways, including direct funding (such as the Scottish Veterans Fund), policy and/or service reforms or dedicated initiatives with partners.
Jobs, skills and employability
Military service promotes leadership, a ‘can-do’ attitude and many other general or specialist skills that are readily transferrable to the civilian workplace. A growing number of employers in all sectors recognise the experience and benefits Service personnel can bring to their organisations, offering an excellent way to fill their skills requirements. But too often military personnel underestimate the value that they can bring to employers and, for one reason or another, settle for a civilian role that might not fully recognise their skills, experience or true potential.
We want military personnel to have the confidence to aim higher when they leave service, getting a fulfilling civilian job where they operate at a level that is commensurate to their experience. We also need better engagement with the private sector, promoting veterans as an asset, removing any barriers to civilian employment and improving access to veterans as a pool of employable people.
With this in mind, we plan to develop a programme of work led by the veterans community and partners in the private sector. This work will aim to identify and tackle barriers experienced by military personnel when seeking civilian employment and build up strong working relationships with private sector employers in Scotland.
Through the office of the Scottish Veterans Commissioner, work is planned to examine skills and education provision for ex-Service personnel, and to identify ways to improve access and standards.
Cohesion and integration
We now have a comprehensive network of Armed Forces and Veterans Champions embedded in public bodies and local authorities across Scotland. This is yielding benefits in a number of areas, where Champions have seized on their roles with enthusiasm and creativity. The Scottish Armed Forces and Veterans Champions network is a valuable resource of individuals, serving as linchpins for these bodies and the Armed Forces community. There are excellent examples of good practice flourishing, and we want this network to get to the next level.
We will work with the Scottish Veterans Commissioner, Armed Forces, third sector, local authorities and others to organise a nationwide Champions Gathering and design a programme to share learning and support further integration of the Armed Forces community. We want to foster best practice, enabling other areas to cooperate and, if appropriate, pool resources.
At a national level, there is a lot of support out there that is under-exploited. We will support moves to promote clear signposting for service delivery through the Veterans Assist website and other channels. Whatever the need, the support is out there, and we need to prioritise initiatives that clarify the options available, using up-to-date technology and good communication.
No one should suffer disadvantage as a result of military service. As well as serving and former personnel, we must be aware of the needs of families whose lives have also been geared around the demands of the Armed Forces.
Ensuring no disadvantage is an overriding priority of the Scottish Government and its strategic partners, and we must continue to work energetically to ensure that it is a key component of decision-making on policy-making and service delivery. We have a good record of supporting Service families, especially in the education system, and we plan to focus efforts on the offer to families.
Scotland has demonstrated great strengths in mental and physical healthcare provision, and this will continue to be a fundamental priority to support particularly in terms of improving awareness of long-term clinical needs and transfer of data. We also want to examine how we can support wellbeing and rehabilitation through positive activities such as sport and recreation, and building on comradeship activities led by Legion Scotland and other organisations to tackle loneliness and isolation. In terms of tackling individual cases or local service provision, the Champions network can make a real difference, and we will put effort in to making this work as effectively as possible.
On housing, we want to foster innovative models to meet housing demand, and to encourage a progressive, sympathetic approach by social landlords across Scotland. Implementation of recommendations of the Scottish Veterans Commissioner on housing, transition and other issues will be treated as a high priority.
Looking ahead, Scotland will receive new powers and we are conscious of the interaction the benefits to be devolved might have on the Armed Forces community. Consideration will be given to the opportunities this may present and how best to use new powers alongside existing ones to improve outcomes for people.
We want to drive up standards of service provision, so we need an accurate picture to measure how we are doing and to identify any gaps. The Scottish Veterans Commissioner is a good route to identify need, and we will work closely with the Commissioner, Armed Forces, third sector, academia and other nations to generate a more robust evidence base to challenge assumptions and to make sure resources and efforts are prioritised in the right direction.
Scotland is a society that recognises and values our Armed Forces community as a true asset. We renew our commitments to support them and pledge to make Scotland the most attractive destination for the Armed Forces, Service leavers and their families.
Email: Nadine Milne
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