Government releases veterans action plan with employment incentives

After a public consultation, the government has pledged a series of commitments to help veterans enter the workplace

Reduced National Insurance contributions for employers and guaranteed interviews in the public sector are some of the ways the government is proposing to help incentivise the employment of ex-armed forces personnel.

Regularly used in the Civil Service, the incentives are set to be introduced as part of an action plan toward 2028 that highlights employment, education and skills as key themes.

An investment of £30 million to upgrade the existing veterans’ pension system has also been promised.

Speaking at the Veterans Work: The Debate event in London Johnny Mercer, the government’s first minister for veterans’ affairs, announced the changes alongside a dedicated veterans’ affairs portal on the .gov website.

The event was held to create a dialogue about the treatment of armed forces leavers in UK companies and was attended by senior military officers, civil servants and policymakers. The debate centred on how to ‘rebrand’ people from the armed forces in the UK, how to make businesses more effective at hiring veterans, and the role this group can play in the future of work.

A large part of the challenge faced by those leaving the armed forces are the connotations of the word veteran, and the public’s preconceived ideas about the needs and transferable skills of service leavers.

Yet in an audience poll soft skills – such as strategic management, managing and motivating staff, team working, positive attitude and listening skills – were all deemed some of the most well-developed attributes of service leavers.

Veteran Richard Sharp, who is now CEO of voluntary disaster response organisation Team Rubicon, vouched for the wide range of skills ex-forces personnel can bring to the workforce.

He gave an example of how a former sniper in the military was able to transition into a civilian role after his service. “Everything else he did before pulling that trigger – his discipline, his skill, his loyalty, his selflessness – we have a responsibility to showcase that, and [to highlight] just what this life experience has given to him.”

Currently, very little exists in company HR policies to accommodate the transitional needs of those leaving the military. Many at the debate were determined to change that.

Rosaleen Blair, founder and chair of Alexander Mann Solutions, added: “Hiring veterans is commercial; this makes great business sense. And apart from that it’s the right thing to do. There is a wealth of talent that we’re not tapping into.”

Veterans Work is a consortium of Deloitte, the Forces in Mind Trust and the Officers’ Association. Launched on the back of Deloitte’s Military Transition and Talent Programme, the project seeks to inform other companies about the unique benefits this group of people bring to businesses.

Deloitte is one of 4,000 organisations in the UK have signed the Armed Forces Covenant – a pledge to ensure those who serve and have served in the military are treated fairly in the jobs market and wider society. The principles of the government’s action plan, Strategy for our Veterans - UK Government Consultation Response, are consistent with and underpinned by this pledge.