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Military cutbacks a chance for companies to gain skills, says Bureau Veritas HRD

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Cuts in the armed forces present an opportunity for employers to gain skills in areas such as engineering and mechanics, according to Bureau Veritas HR director for north-west Europe Helen Cunningham.

The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review set out plans to reduce the number of employees across the armed forces by 33,000 within five years. Almost all of these have now left the military.

Cunningham told HR magazine Bureau Veritas has been working with associations specialising in redeployment to help ex-military personnel gain civilian employment.

She added that the arrangement makes "commercial sense" as it gives the organisation access to skills that can be hard to come by.

"It's helped us to recruit for a skillset we need," she said. "Our current staff also react really well to having the ex-military people around. While we're careful not to put them on a pedestal we find it helps to increase pride in the workforce and the company.

"Qualities like resilience and discipline are things that can't always be taught. But because of their background people coming in from the armed forces often bring that with them."

The military is also a good source of diverse talent, according to Cunningham.

"We have one woman who is a dual-qualified engineer, which is very rare," she explained. "While it's a male-dominated profession, it's great to have an example of a woman who's doing so well in her career working for us here."