Leaving the military can be daunting, regardless of how many years you have served or the reasons for moving on.
For some leavers, particularly those with specific trades and qualifications, the move might be straightforward. For example, a military chef, clerk or mechanic may decide to go straight into a kitchen, office or garage but for others who want a change in direction or are worried that they may not have obvious skills or qualifications to go into the civilian workplace, here are some industry options to consider.
Military personnel can have a great deal to offer all emergency services, with firearms and first aid experience, crisis management expertise, driving qualifications and a proven ability to deal with injured people and stressful situations as well as an understanding of a hierarchical rank structure with an ability to both give and receive orders.
All of the emergency services will provide on-the-job training, so do not necessarily require pre-existing qualifications.
There are many qualities that military personnel have that are needed in classrooms today. Leadership skills, discipline and the ability to inspire and motivate youngsters enables ex-forces to bring diversity to the learning environment.
There is a £40,000 government bursary (replacing 'Troops for Teachers' programme) that encourages ex-serving personnel to retrain as teachers and prioritises places for service leavers. There are also unique job opportunities with the ‘Teach First’ charity and social enterprise which pays participants to work in disadvantaged schools while they qualify. 'Further Forces' also operate a scheme that helps to train ex-Forces to teach in STEM subjects.
There are many types of security work both in private and public sector, at home and abroad. People, homes, equipment, maritime and air assets are all areas which need security provision, and military personnel provide an ideal background for recruitment in this industry.
The scope for this type of work is massive. There are specialised companies who provide security and close protection for journalists and media teams, celebrities, politicians as well as festivals and events requiring door staff who look favourably on those with military backgrounds.
Although this is an area which requires specialist qualifications, there are many opportunities for ex-military personnel with instructional experience within the fitness industry.
There has been a surge in popularity for ‘Military style fitness’ classes and some companies will provide training for ex-forces because military experience is considered a highly desirable trait within the industry.
As well as the traditional park and gym-based fitness classes there are also opportunities for employment as sports instructors so any outward-bound pursuits including climbing, orienteering, caving, sailing (plus many others) that you may have experienced or instructed on in the military are useful.
Currently there are openings for Educational Physical Trainers with RV1 Group Ltd and ex-military Training Instructors at Military Preparation College (MPCT) that prioritise military experience over PT qualifications.
Location managers, military advisors and logistics are just a few examples of work within the Film and TV industry that former service personnel have a lot to offer. Planning, attention to detail, time management, being able to get on well with people and keeping calm in a crisis are all critical skills for life on set that are run very much like a military operation and for which those with a military background are well suited.
Paul Biddiss (ex-Para) has gone on to forge an extremely successful career as a military adviser on films including 1917, Fury and Peterloo.
Journalism and politics are other fields which attract those who have served including Clive Lewis, Johnny Mercer, Penny Mordaunt, Martin Bell, Frank Gardner and even Winston Churchill. Campaign Force help to bring ex-military into public service and politics.
The Forces Media Academy offers a full-time one year Higher National Certificate (H.N.C) Creative Media Production Course for which the Royal British Legion provide veterans with a bursary of up to £15,000 towards living expenses. The course offers two work placements in media organisations such as Sky and ITV and past students have gone on to find careers in video production, location management and marketing.
Humanitarian and Aid Work
This is a diverse industry with a number of roles requiring backgrounds in certain fields including medical, engineering, construction, security, logistics and HR. Several traits prevalent in the Armed Forces community can be adapted for use within an NGO culture such as strong leadership, resilience, understanding and protecting the vulnerable.
There is no specific route into the industry and some organisations may expect volunteers to raise money before being offered a place on a charitable programme, but this kind of experience could then lead on to paid work.
Companies such as The Development Initiative (TDI) provide humanitarian and commercial mine clearance and training to both governmental and non-governmental departments in ‘often inaccessible and hostile environments’ and welcome applications from ex-military.
Forestry, Horticultural and Agricultural Work
Many who serve in the armed forces can’t imagine a job being stuck behind a desk and the land-based sector has a wide selection of roles to offer ex-military personnel including floristry, game-keeping, farming, tree-surgery, landscaping and conservation.
Time management, problem-solving, early starts, team-work and a tremendous work ethic are all highly sought-after traits and skills veterans have to offer potential employers and although roles tend not to be particularly well-paid when first starting out, the industry can offer a good quality of life and job satisfaction and salaries will increase with experience and qualifications.
Charities like HighGround and career-consultancy Ruralink provide horticultural therapy, land-based employment advice, work placement opportunities, networking events and training to help ex-military move into the industry.
The above list is far from comprehensive but gives a range of areas where former members of the Armed Forces have found new opportunities when faced with life after service.
This article is part of 'Life After Service' - a week-long campaign of positive stories about ex-servicemen and women which will be running every day across all the BFBS media channels.