Help us help our veterans
Australian Defence Force veterans are ideal candidates for lifting industry employers, says Justin Boehm, Member Engagement Manager for Australia at the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA).
It was great to see LEEA CEO Ross Moloney pay members in Australia and New Zealand another visit during October. One of topics of discussion was the 75:75 military transition scheme, which the association has been successfully operating in the UK during its 75th anniversary year.
The UK aspiration for this project is to provide 75 personnel, who are service leavers or veterans, with free training to give them a foothold into the lifting industry. Running in tandem with this training, we hope to achieve 75 job placements with members or with other organisations in the lifting industry. They will be employing people that, in addition to being equipped with considerable and unparalleled life skills, will have already achieved the initial necessary training requirement for the lifting industry.
The take up has been incredible. The association is currently training 59 individuals and has twelve member companies signed up to provide work placements. We are confident that going forward this scheme will become business as usual so that we will always train a number of military leavers and we will always maintain a database of companies willing to offer work placements.
Furthermore, the multi-faceted idea to assist service leavers and veterans of the military into employment and help the lifting industry recruit exceptional new talent is one that can now be offered to other regions around the world, starting with Australia.
Skilled labour exists within Australia’s Defence Force (ADF) but often does not transfer seamlessly into civilian job roles. In his Ministerial statement — third annual statement on veterans and their families, delivered in October, the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, said that every year, more than 5,500 people leave the military so improving the transition experience is vital. He added that just as enlistment and basic training is an important part of the ADF, transition back into civilian life is equally important.
The unemployment and underemployment rate for veterans does not compare favourably with the national average (currently around 5%), particularly in the first months after their transition. The Defence post-transition survey indicates that 26% of ADF members are looking for work prior to transition. At three months post-transition this is down to 12%, and by 12 months down to 8%.
The Australian government has created a number of programmes to help military veterans but the entrepreneurial spirit within the private sector can offer direct assistance – particularly from smaller companies for veterans returning to regional areas where jobs are scarce.
There are two things that will concern service leavers. The first is how to translate their military experience into the civilian world and second is to convince a civilian employer that they are right for the job.
Without doubt, leaving the Defence Force can be a daunting prospect. Yet ex-service men and women have a wealth of skills and experiences such as attitude, team spirit, diligence, loyalty, sense of duty, presentation and the ability to deliver with limited resources – skills that are not always easily found among civilians. Getting the most positive reaction to these qualities depends also on the individual having the ‘work-ready skills’ and confidence to complement their military training.
We know that many personnel in the military have experience in the lifting world and we want to support their formal career development by creating a bridge for Defence Force leavers into the civilian world of lifting.
This kind of project can facilitate win-win opportunities for service personnel and the lifting sector by coming together through a structured experience. Our industry should recognise the development that those in the Defence Force, who have given service to their country, have gone through and the enormous potential they have.