The veterans community - employability, skills and learning

Third report from the Scottish Veterans Commissioner advising Scottish Ministers on improving employment and learning opportunities for veterans in Scotland.

Recommendations and Findings

Securing Employment

Recommendation 1 - Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group

The Scottish Government should establish a Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group of key partners to provide strategic leadership and to oversee the activity required to fulfil the ambitions of more, and better, employment opportunities for veterans, as articulated in this report and in Renewing Our Commitments.

The working group should include core participation from the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS), Local Government representation, Ministry of Defence ( MOD)/ Career Transition Partnership ( CTP), the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP), and Veterans Scotland.

Recommendation 2 - Scottish Veterans Fund

The Scottish Government should support proposals that promote employability and increase job opportunities amongst the veterans community as the priority when allocating resources from the Scottish Veterans Fund.

Recommendation 3 - Filling the Skills Gap

The Scottish Government to review how the veterans community could be most effectively utilised to fill the known skills gaps in key sectors like education, health, IT, engineering, construction, finance and insurance. In doing so, it should consider whether its recent initiative to attract former oil and gas workers into teaching in the North East of Scotland should be replicated for the veterans community. This recommendation should be considered by the Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) as one of its early priorities.

Recommendation 4 - Employability Pilot Scheme

The Scottish Government should initiate and co-ordinate a regional employability pilot project, based in an area where there is a high military and veteran population. The purpose should be to deliver an increased number of meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for Service Leavers, veterans, and spouses and partners.

The pilot should involve the full range of organisations with an interest in the development of the local economy, the sustainability of its communities and the particular contribution that veterans and families can make to these ambitions. It should, therefore, see core participation from the Scottish Government, Local Government, Ministry of Defence, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Skills Development Scotland, Department for Work and Pensions/Job Centre Plus, Community Planning Partnership(s), employers, local college(s), and representatives of local veterans' families.

Recommendation 5 - Research and Evaluation

The Scottish Government should commission research to provide analysis of the current baseline of the employment situation for the veterans community and to evaluate the impact of national and local initiatives to improve job prospects.

Recommendation 6 - Work Placements

The Scottish Government should work with employers - both small and large - to find ways of offering more placements to Service Leavers, veterans, spouses and partners. This should be in addition to those offered by Career Transition Partnership.

Finding 1 - Mentoring

I would like to see more employers establishing networks of employees who can be a source of advice and mentoring support for Service Leavers and veterans, both those considering joining the organisation and those employed. I will continue to raise this suggestion with employers and encourage them to emulate the examples cited.

Qualifications And Skills

Recommendation 7 - Improving Literacy and Numeracy

The Career Transition Partnership ( CTP), Local Authority community-based support services, colleges, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) and charities should promote the benefits of improved literacy and numeracy skills amongst Service Leavers and veterans, directing them to appropriate community-based support, including the 'Big Plus' initiative. The aim should be to generate greater awareness amongst veterans with specific needs, their families and employers in order that learning opportunities can be accessed more readily.

Recommendation 8 - Recognition of Qualifications and Skills

The Veterans Employability Strategic Working Group (see Recommendation 1) should produce a plan for building understanding and recognition amongst Scottish employers (especially SMEs) of the skills and qualifications gained in the military. The Group should also consider whether the current system for translating and mapping qualifications could be simplified and how it might be better utilised and understood.

Recommendation 9 - Support for the Long-Term

The Career Transition Partnership ( CTP) and Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) should build on their existing relationship with the aim of ensuring Service Leavers and veterans have seamless access to SDS once their period of support from CTP comes to an end. This will be particularly important for Early Service Leavers and others in danger of 'falling between the gaps'.

Further And Higher Education

Recommendation 10 - Veterans Attending College

Colleges Scotland to work with their members to engage the veterans sector more closely in order to promote the benefits of, and opportunities to participate in, college education. Ultimately the outcome should be an increase in numbers from the veterans community taking up college places.

Appendix - Recommendations and Findings

Recommendation 11 - Modern Apprenticeships

The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and Colleges Scotland should develop a plan to promote the Modern Apprenticeship programme to Early Service Leavers, veterans who would benefit from up-skilling or retraining, and spouses and partners.

Recommendation 12 - Sponsorship at College

The Scottish Government should work with employers to identify ways of supporting, and perhaps incentivising, sponsorship schemes that will allow a greater number of Service Leavers and veterans to undertake college studies in conjunction with full time employment.

Recommendation 13 - Access Thresholds

In fulfilling the recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access, all universities should consider how access thresholds can be specifically applied to the veterans community. Subsequently, they should advertise and promote these thresholds widely across the military and veterans sectors.

Recommendation 14 - Articulation

The Scottish Funding Council, universities and colleges to specifically consider the veterans community as they embark on the expansion of articulation, as recommended by the Commission on Widening Access.

Recommendation 15 - Information about Colleges and Universities

The Scottish Funding Council should work with relevant organisations - including Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland and Student Awards Agency Scotland - to produce material designed specifically for the veterans community. This should include information about finance and the support available for those enrolling at college or university. Subsequently, this material should be made available widely amongst the serving and veterans communities, and those like CTP and SDS who support them.

Recommendation 16 - Veterans Network/Champions in Colleges and Universities

Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland should work with their members and Veterans Scotland to establish a network of champions across all colleges and universities. The champions can provide the first point of contact for members of the ex-Service community applying for, or undertaking, further and higher education. They should also consider offering mentoring, advice on applications and funding, and be part of the wider champions network in Scotland.

Finding 2 - Flexible Learning

Flexible learning options offer a significant, yet under-utilised, opportunity for members of the veterans community. It is a subject that deserves further consideration and I look forward to engaging with Colleges Scotland, and others, over the coming months.

Looking To The Future

Recommendation 17 - Parliamentary Scrutiny of Veterans Issues

The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work should in due course report the progress made against implementing the recommendations in this report (and my two previous reports) to the Scottish Parliament. The aim should be to raise the profile of veterans issues amongst Parliamentarians and provide them with the information necessary to scrutinise the Scottish Government's work in this field.

Recommendation 18 - Jobs within the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government to assess its current and future recruitment policies with a view to identifying opportunities to better target and support the veterans community in securing Scottish Government jobs. In doing so, it should consider Police Scotland's approach of providing tailored information, personal support in completing applications, and advice in preparing for interviews. Mentoring from ex-Service personnel within the civil service is likely to play a crucial role.

Recommendation 19 - Jobs within NHS Scotland

NHS Scotland and individual Health Boards should develop and deliver commitments made at the last Armed Forces and Veterans Joint Group meeting to utilise the talents of the veterans community and provide better support and advice to those applying for jobs within the NHS.

Scottish Veterans Commissioner
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Published by The Scottish Veterans Commission, November 2016


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