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Why a career in construction could be the next step for ex-military

Last year, the number of people employed in
the British Armed Forces numbered nearly 150,000. Of those, over 80,000
employed in the British Army and over 30,000 in the Royal Navy.

However, over 14,000 people leave the military
every year. This has become somewhat of a blessing for the construction
industry, as it has created a sea of potential employees. Over 200,000 extra
workers are needed before 2020 and ex-military personnel have highly
transferrable skillsets and the potential to reach the top of the industry.

Ryan Latham, Senior Marketing Executive for 3B Training, has experienced firsthand how
businesses can benefit from hiring ex-military personnel.

as an industry is growing, but it’s also is experiencing a gap in skills. An
excellent way to fill in the hole for personnel with leadership, project
management and teamwork skills is to investigate the pool of military leavers
available. These transferable attributes are a valuable resource for the
construction industry to help bring in skilled young workers.

industries appear to ignore Armed Forces leavers as potential employees, so
much so that some leave their service history from their CV. Little do they
know that they are missing out on a range of positive personality traits such
as courage, discipline, selflessness and respect for others”.

Below, we take a closer look at what it’s like
working in the military, what motivates members of the Armed Forces and why
transitioning to a career in construction is the ideal next step for a leaver.

Why do people leave the military?

To understand why many people choose to leave
the service, we’ve examined data from the 2018 UK Regular Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey
Results which look at the impact of decisions affecting personnel.

Life in the Armed Forces requires specific
demands that aren’t found in civilian jobs. When deployed, military personnel
can find themselves away from their families for long periods of time, often in
dangerous situations. Yet despite this, we found that the most common reasons
for military personnel to seek a new career path are down to more familiar

  • Job satisfaction —  Only 55% of military personnel claimed they
    were generally satisfied with their job.
  • Pay satisfaction — There has been a consistent
    drop in pay satisfaction since 2010, with only 31% currently admitting to being
    happy with their salary.
  • Life satisfaction — When questioning their
    happiness and how worthwhile they feel the things they do in life are, at least
    one in five members of the military rate them as low.

Since 2005, the Royal Marines have also seen a
large decrease in the levels of satisfaction with opportunities for
professional and personal development. It seems then, that much like civilian
jobs, careers in the military are more motivated by personal growth and

This has led to a staggering 42% of military
personnel actively searching for a new career outside of the Armed Forces over
the past 12 months.

Why choose construction?

The construction industry is currently
suffering from a skills shortage, resulting in a need for over 200,000 more
workers by 2020. According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
the lack of skilled workers in the UK is the highest level since 2007, meaning
the government’s initiative to build 300,000 new homes each year looks
optimistic at best.

Former military personnel have a great
opportunity to fill the construction skills gap. There are many sectors in the
Armed Forces which provide their personnel with a number of highly
transferrable skills, whether that’s engineering, mechanics or electronic.

A number of companies recognise the potential
of military leavers and provide specialist training programmes to help them
adjust to civilian life and a new career in construction. There are specialist
courses available that provide Enhanced Learning Credits to enable lifelong
learning to ex-members of the military or those looking to leave. These credits
cover 80% of course fees and are available to anyone who has served a minimum
of 6 years.

Working in construction allows leavers to put
their experience to good use in a number of potential opportunities. The
industry is not only in desperate need of construction workers but also manager
positions, which is perfect for ex-officers who have experience leading teams
and getting results in difficult situations.

What makes ex-military personnel a
desirable workforce?

When working in the armed forces, you receive
a level of training that simply isn’t available in other career paths.
Regardless of their previous role, leavers are all highly disciplined and have
fantastic teamwork skills.

  • According to the Armed Forces
    survey results, 82% agree that they have confidence in themselves as a team,
    plus, 78% believe their team know exactly what their responsibilities are and
    that their team can be relied upon to help when their job gets difficult. A
    strong team that can work well together and keep their cool under pressure is
    exactly what the construction industry needs.
  • Many working in the military are
    proud of the work they do, with 50% of the Royal Marines claiming that their
    service inspires them to do the best in their job. With the construction
    industry looking for a dedicated new workforce, finding employees who take
    pride in their work is crucial.
  • Leavers are not just job
    applicants to the construction industry, they’re assets. Due to their
    experiences in the Armed Forces, they can pick up skills much faster than most
    people in civilian professions and can help quickly fill the large skills gap.
    A team of highly trained, dedicated workers and authoritative, respected
    managers is the solution the industry has been looking for.

Samantha Gregory, Training Coordinator at 3B Training
and former Vehicle Mechanic in the REME, knows firsthand what ex-military can
offer the construction industry.

“The work ethic for military leavers is
completely different from civilians. It is embedded in us to turn up on time (5
minutes before 5 minutes early) and to just get the job done.

Leavers are great at
working under pressure and are taught to work through problems ourselves and
come up with practical solutions. They can work with anyone and take
instruction well.

Plus, if you’re looking for a manager you’re
in the right place, as working in the Armed Forces gives leavers some of the
best training in some of the worst environments”.