Veterans and the Armed Forces community - support: 2020 report

This report highlights the Scottish Government’s continuing support for the Veterans and Armed Forces community in Scotland and provides an update on this year’s achievements and work undertaken to improve support and access to services for our Armed Forces, Veterans and their families.

Employability and Skills


Employability Initiatives

The Scottish Government, alongside delivery partners, will continue to ensure employment support services, for those facing significant challenges when leaving the Armed Forces, continue to be enhanced. The employability support programmes are open to all individuals who meet the eligibility criteria, including Veterans and Service leavers.

The Scottish Government's ambition is for a Scottish approach to employability that focuses on the needs of the individual first and foremost. As outlined in our No-One Left Behind review, which was published in 2018, we are developing a system that builds on an individual's strengths and capabilities; is more joined up; flexible and responsive to the needs of each person; and enables them to reach their potential.

Our approach will require more effective integration and alignment of support and services which fully recognise the wide range of barriers people can face when seeking employment. We know that many people face significant barriers to accessing sustainable work. Tackling these challenges requires us to develop pathways into fair work and to join up employability services with housing, justice, health and other provisions.

Mapping Military Qualifications

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) 2020-21 funding for the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership includes support for continued and extended work on the mapping of military qualifications against those which are recognised by employers in Scotland. This work has so far published guides to Infantry, Royal Artillery, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers and Royal Logistic Corps qualifications and is being expanded to look at Royal Navy Catering Services branches. This will help employers and educational institutions understand the range of skills and expertise that those leaving the forces have to offer, and in addition support individuals to articulate their skills clearly in order to find employment or education. The Scottish Government has committed to fund this valuable work through to 2023.

Veterans Employability Strategic Group

The Scottish Government this year announced
that Sue Bomphray from Barclays will be the new co-chair of the Veterans Employability Strategic Group (VESG) alongside the Scottish Government's Director for Fair Work, Employability and Skills, currently David Wilson.

The VESG dates back to 2016, following the Scottish Veterans Commissioner's (SVC) report on Employability, Skills & Learning. The paper made 19 recommendations, the first of which was for the Scottish Government to establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee activity to increase and improve employment opportunities for Veterans.

The VESG was announced in 2017 and has comprised representatives from the Scottish Government; Skills Development Scotland (SDS); Career Transition Partnership (CTP); Department for Work and Pensions; Veterans Scotland; Ministry of Defence/Army and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership. Since its inception the Group has contributed to progressing some of the other SVC recommendations including:

  • developing the relationship between CTP and SDS to avoid Service Leavers 'falling between the gaps' ensuring they have seamless access to SDS during and once their support from CTP ends;
  • establishing the work being undertaken by the SCQF Partnership to map military qualifications to the Scottish Framework which are recognised by employers and educational institutions in Scotland;
  • producing a Scottish Veterans Employability Concordat, which is a commitment set out in three principles for those involved in the employment and training of Veterans and their families to make Scotland the destination of choice for Service Leavers. This was launched in September 2018.

The Group still has a vital role to play in improving the opportunities for, and lives of, Veterans in Scotland. The future focus, vision and membership of the Group is being considered to ensure it can deliver the remaining Commissioner recommendations and establish its role beyond these.

Scottish Government Employment

During July 2020, the Scottish Government participated in an online session for the Officers Association Scotland. This session highlighted the opportunities that existed, predominantly within Health and Social Care roles, but also in the wider Scottish Government. More than 50 individuals signed up for the event which was recorded for those unable to attend. The genesis of this session followed the successful deployment of a military planning team to the Scottish Government to support the health response to COVID-19. Following the event, almost 20 expressions of interest for fixed-term appointments were received. As of early October 2020, four had started roles within the Outbreak Management Directorate; three were due to start imminently; six others were being discussed in parallel to developing new teams to support COVID response and two others were being offered roles elsewhere within Scottish Government, including within Education.

Though the specific nature of these appointments will not permit conversion to permanent, this is another positive step in providing employment opportunities for Veterans.

Additionally, the Scottish Government is offering work placements and Fixed Term Appointments (FTA) to Veterans through the Going Forward Into Employment (GFIE) programme. We are working with the Career Transition Partnership to identify suitable candidates and the initiative will give us the opportunity to take on Service leavers and Veterans through short placements and FTA which could subsequently be converted to permanent. The initiative is sponsored by the Chief Executive of the Civil Service Commission and Veterans are one of a number of categories of people covered by the scheme, which is intended to help them overcome potential barriers in securing employment.

The Scottish Government Armed Forces and Veterans Staff Network continues to develop and this year provided advice and support directly to Veterans including mentoring, CV-writing, interview preparation and skills translation. Some of the mentored individuals were successfully offered fixed term appointments in the Scottish Government and at least one secured a job in the third sector.

The Scottish Government has worked with Armed Forces and Veterans stakeholders to share adverts for vacancies in the Scottish Government through their websites and job boards, including Forces Families Jobs, CTP, Poppyscotland, Veterans Scotland, 51 Brigade, SaluteMyJob, Officers Association Scotland, Regular Forces Recruitment Agency and British Forces Resettlement Services.

The Scottish Government's People Directorate and NHS Scotland were represented virtually at the CTP annual employment fair in September 2020 to promote job opportunities in the Scottish Government and NHS and to engage with Service leavers.

Jobs Within NHS Scotland

The NHS Scotland Careers website contains case studies from NHS employees who have previously served in the Armed Forces, giving a testimonial of their experience moving from Service to the NHS. A virtual insight day for Veterans during 2020 was well attended and a number were interested in NHS roles, with ten candidates being progressed into temporary contracts. In February 2020, the Chief Medical Officer wrote to the Head of HR within every NHS Scotland Board to highlight the importance and benefit of employing Veterans. Although paused by COVID-19, we are building a range of case studies to highlight the spectrum of employment opportunities available to ex-Service personnel. With the involvement of NHS Scotland's Chief People Officer and the Office of the Chief Executive for NHS Scotland, this work remains a priority.

Capitalising on Military Talent

In 2020, the Scottish and Welsh Governments jointly funded Business in the Community (BITC) to deliver a refresh of the Capitalising on Military Talent Toolkit to include information for employers on the benefits of employing military family members, particularly partners, and how to do so. The outcomes of this would be adding to the business case for employing military partners; increasing the knowledge of employers on how to do this successfully and enabling more military partners to secure good-quality employment and continue to participate and progress in the workforce. This will encourage businesses to offer sustainable and good quality employment to Veterans and their family members, particularly partners. The Capitalising on Military Family Talent Toolkit will be launched formally at the end of November 2020.

Skills Development Scotland

A96 Pilot Project

The Scottish Government has continued to support the pilot project, where, through partnership between Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Careers Transition Partnership, Service leavers

in the A96 corridor will be offered careers guidance during their Resettlement training. As of August 2020, 31 clients have accessed the Inverness & Elgin SDS centres and a further five spouses/partners have engaged with SDS services in the area. The Scottish Government will continue to work with SDS and the MOD to ensure that the service offer can be rolled-out across Scotland and become business as usual.

Future Skills

SDS worked with Scottish Water and Poppyscotland to design, develop and deliver a digital skills online event in September 2020. It included partners from the Highland Armed Forces Community Covenant group and the Covenant Employability sub-group. The event was in two parts - one for employers and one for Armed Forces personnel and Veterans. The first session was aimed at businesses and promoted the Highlands as a great place to build and establish a digital future, considering the Armed Forces community within their workforce. The second session raised awareness of a digital future, future skills and the availability of further learning and support.

SDS worked with 51 Brigade to deliver a number of future skills and personal resilience sessions to Serving personnel. One face-to-face session took place in January 2020 with approximately 200 personnel from 3 SCOTS. Four virtual sessions were delivered in May and July 2020 with approximately 20 personnel at each. These focused on future and transferable skills and developed around a personal resilience theme, focusing on skills both in and out of the Military and key areas of transition.

Regular Forces Employment Association (RFEA)

In July 2020, SDS hosted an RFEA awareness session to introduce their Military Women Programme which supports female Veterans find employment. The session also included a general update and information session about RFEA service delivery and supported SDS' thinking within its Equalities Action Plan and gender theme.

Spousal/Partner Employment – Can Do Hubs

Inspired by the Scottish Government's CAN DO Places programme, the Leuchars Co-Working Hub opened in 2017. It was the first hub in what was to become the Military Co-working Network, a network of co-working spaces close to military bases throughout the UK. Its members were instrumental in the work to develop a Co-working Hub in Helensburgh to support families based in Faslane. The development of these Hubs has been supported by CAN DO Places who work with community groups, Business Improvement Districts and Development Trusts to take over redundant buildings to create venues for collaboration and co-working. The programme has now created a scalable model to assist inclusive growth across urban and rural Scotland. Following the success of the Leuchars pilot, the Military is supporting the development of similar facilities across the UK and there are now over 40 hubs in development in UK military bases around the world and over 1,000 members.

In February 2020 a significant grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund has allowed the project to run a formal two year pilot which, if successful, could result in the MOD incorporating military co-working into its formal welfare offer. The co-working spaces were closed due to COVID-19 but began to reopen in September beginning with the Leuchars location.



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