FORMER ARMED SERVICES personnel are discriminated against when looking for work, according to research by SSAFA, the armed forces charity.
Almost half (46%) of UK recruiters say they worry about hiring a service leaver in case they have mental health issues.
Despite best efforts from British companies and individuals, including Prince William and Prince Harry, negative perceptions about mental health remain a significant barrier in the recruitment process, with service leavers being stigmatised. Over a third (31%) of recruiters feel reluctant to hire someone who has been in the armed services.
To challenge a lack of understanding amongst businesses and to help service men and women transition from military into civilian life, SSAFA has launched a new campaign called Friendly to Forces.
The initiative encourages companies to sign up and show their support and willingness to hire Forces leavers. Mentees from SSAFA’s own mentoring programme will be directed to apply for roles at SSAFA’s Friendly to Forces employers.
But it’s not just businesses discriminating against mental health sufferers. Despite the countless skills that come with hiring a veteran, alarmingly under half (48%) of UK workers said they would feel comfortable working alongside a service leaver.
More male workers (50%) said they would feel comfortable working alongside a service leader than female workers (45%). Over 1 in 10 (13%) workers aged 16-24 associate aggression with service leaders.
Over 3 in 10 (31%) of UK recruiters said they would feel reluctant to hire someone who has previously served in the Armed Forces. Interestingly more male recruiters (35%) would feel reluctant to hire a Forces leaver than their female counterparts (28%).
Mental health understanding
The divide in understanding veterans in the workplace is profound. As on the other side of opinion, 43% say they would feel proud to work alongside a service leaver. In fact, workers cited being a team player (57%), driven (43%), a problem solver (42%), resilient (41%), quick thinking (40%) as qualities they associate with service leavers.
James Grant, Head of Corporate Fundraising and Events at Amey, says: “One of the many selling points of joining the Armed Forces is learning skills that can be easily transferred into civilian life. Sadly, some businesses still don’t recognise these skills and service leavers are being discriminated against. We see that there’s also a false perception over Armed Forces personnel suffering from mental health issues. Mental health is a common condition affecting 1 in 4 people every year – service leaver or not.
“A career in service to our country should always be met with pride and gratitude. That’s why we have launched our Friendly to Forces campaign, to challenge all businesses to do better when hiring service leavers.”