Former officers are helping firms grow

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THEY’VE displayed a steady nerve in some of the toughest situations, and now former officers in the British Army are looking for career opportunities in Yorkshire.

A charity that helps officers leaving the services to find work has opened an office in South Parade, Leeds. It’s the first time The Officers’ Association has opened an office outside London, and the charity held a launch event at the Royal Armouries in Leeds last night to encourage more employers to support its work.

They heard from people like former Army captain Chris Recchia, who is a lead partner for the Deloitte Military Transition and Talent Programme.

He’s a veteran of the first Gulf War who has shown how skills honed in the military can be transferred to civvy street.

Mr Recchia said that, apart from technical skills, former officers can also bring drive, integrity and emotional intelligence into the workplace.

“They can make good, sensible and pragmatic decisions,’’ he added.

“The trick is to translate what they’ve done in the military into a commercial value.”

Last year around 1,200 former officers were helped by the charity, at a time when Army numbers were being reduced because of defence cuts.

The Officers’ Association works with the MoD’s Career Transition Partnership, and a key part of its work is to help officers with their transition from the services into civilian employment.

Lee Holloway, the chief executive of The Officers’ Association said yesterday: “There are many talented people leaving the services with a unique set of qualities that can add huge value to many sectors and organisations.

“However, the potential this varied skill-set carries can be difficult to convey in transition. It is part of our job to ensure employers have access to these exceptional individuals and can benefit from all they have to offer.

“Each officer on our books is well-educated, has excellent leadership skills, and many have been in situations where a cool head and decisive action is paramount. The skills they have learnt in the field can be easily transferred to the workplace, making them an asset to any organisation.”

Mr Holloway said Leeds was the logical place for the association to establish a North of England office to deliver its employment services.

He said former service personnel were used to meeting targets under stressful situations, which made them ideal for a commercial environment.

“They are used to being put into situations with which they are completely unfamiliar,’’ he added. “We help them with their CVs and interview techniques. We make them aware of the world they’re going into.”

Mr Holloway said that leaving the Armed Forces was like moving out of a very private club, and former service personnel could sometimes feel a sense of loss and no longer belonging.

As the economy has recovered, the demand for the Officers’ Association services has risen.

He added: “The recruiting pace is picking up.

“Across industry, there is a healthy understanding of the value we can add.”

The Officers’ Association works with employers to help them identify the right roles for former officers. Some of the UK’s leading companies such as Deloitte, Canary Wharf Group and BNY Mellon, have all hired ex-officers into senior roles.

Mr Holloway said: “Recent research from the MoD’s Career Transition Partnership indicated that those who had recruited former officers report very positive experiences, and it is these messages we look to get across when speaking to employers.

“Our no-cost employer service is unique in that it allows us to promote opportunities to more than 5,000 service leavers each week, help find suitable candidates and translate military skills and experiences into civilian job requirements.”

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