uk military
uk military

Bridging the Skills Gap with Military Talent

Chris Addison, Director at ATA Recruitment

Bridging the skills gap with military talent

The estimated number of vacancies in January to March 2024 was 916,000. The widening skills gap in engineering and manufacturing continues to be a concern for many employers, a problem that is only going to increase due to the high numbers of engineers that are due to retire by 2026.

As a result, companies are looking at ways to solve their attraction issues. Increasing salaries is the obvious solution, especially since the cost-of-living crisis, which has seen salaries increasing at an alarming rate to remain competitive. Similarly, with the ongoing war on talent and demand outstripping supply we have seen big changes in candidate behaviours which has seen many companies reporting retention issues within their teams.

So, whilst we at ATA Recruitment continue to support our customers with their attraction and retention of permanent, contract and executive staff, we also want to support our customers in bridging the skills gap in engineering and manufacturing.

How can employers counteract the skills shortage?

An obvious solution is to recruit apprentices to encourage new talent into the sector. This is a fruitful route for many businesses, but with the average apprenticeship talking 3 years to complete, it isn’t a quick solution. Employers can also take the proactive approach by taking part in various STEM initiatives for children and young people, helping to 'future-proof' the industry by highlighting the various career paths available within the sector. Another alternative is to employ forces leavers. With 16,140 people leaving the forces throughout 2023, this is an untapped source of labour, so what are the benefits?

  • Great problem solvers – all military personnel are trained to be able to problem solve logically, efficiently and often under severe time constraints

  • Technical training and expertise – as part of their development in the forces, veterans will have been trained either to Level 3 or completed a modern apprenticeship

  • Used to working in teams – team spirit and team work are key components to day to day military life, so most leavers will be comfortable and indeed enjoy the comradery of working in a team

  • Used to working under pressure – all Engineers have to work to time constraints, whether it be to get a plane back in the air or fix a leaking valve on ship, the need to fix a breakdown quickly and efficiently is always vital

  • Mouldable – having not worked in manufacturing before they will be a blank canvas, they won’t have picked up any bad habits elsewhere and will be completely receptive to the training you provide.

Of course, ex forces Engineers likely haven’t worked in manufacturing before, and could be working on equipment that is new to them. However many of the components are similar and through their electrical and/or mechanical competence, they will be of a level that any business offering training will be able to get an engineer up and running quickly. Ultimately, their unique attributes align well with the demands of the engineering sector, making them highly valuable assets to any team.

Get in touch​

We are seeing increasing numbers of companies embracing this resource, with 38% of our customers last year recruiting forces leavers. Having seen first hand the benefits to both the employer and the individual, we have grown our involvement with organisations such as the Career Transition Partnership and the Armed Forces Covenant to support our clients in recruiting forces leavers. If your business hasn’t recruited ex-forces Engineers before but would like to know, more then please get in touch for more information.

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