Quest Magazine - Home

Independent resettlement & recruitment guide for serving Armed Forces & Veterans

Gary Burden

Gary Burden


06 Feb, 2017

Years Served: 22 Years
Courses: NEBOSH National General Certificate 1: Occupational Health & Safety, NEBSOSH National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety, NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management
Provider: Oak Tree Management & Training Ltd

I first came across Oak Tree Management & Training at a Services career fair I attended as part of my resettlement. At the time I was unsure of what I wanted to do on leaving the Army after 22 years, but I took a leaflet and popped it in a bag with the others to look at later. A few days later I looked through the huge volumes of literature I’d amassed. Oak Tree Management’s flyers, brochures and website are all clearly laid out and easy to navigate – within a few clicks I was on a dedicated page for Service personnel giving details of bespoke course packages, including prices, using clear, plain English and jargon free.

Oak Tree conveniently offers training up and down the country, so – closer to leaving the Forces and still with no idea what I wanted to do as a second career – I called their number and had a discussion with Steve Crowe who manages the Resettlement Training Programmes at the office. He invited me to pop in for a brew and a chat – something that no other provider had done. There was no sales pitch, no upselling, just someone who was able to listen and answer questions.

I was really impressed by their knowledge of the resettlement process and, importantly, their understanding of the funding process for SLC and ELC. They explained how they process ELC and SLC, and gave examples of what they had helped Service personnel to achieve. They listened to understand what I wanted to do in the future, to enable them to provide advice and guidance in support of my career aims. Steve explained the benefits of Oak Tree’s bespoke course packages. He felt that what I needed was bits of several packages, and agreed there and then to move things around to meet both my academic and funding needs – but, more importantly, my diary and work needs. Steve’s knowledge of the Services career structure enables him to advise on appropriate courses for development in line with Service career and ambitions for the future; his approach is something I feel is unique among learning providers.

One of the big challenges faced by Service personnel is growing a professional network, and gaining relevant work experience to complete vocational learning and include on a CV. Oak Tree is a supplier to many industries; its courses are generally ‘open’, meaning that delegates come from a range of industries, giving a depth of experience that enriches academic value but also helps attendees grow their individual network. Oak Tree can, on occasion, offer work placements to help learners achieve qualifications. I compared price, courses available and my experiences with each of the learning providers I’d spoken with and websites I’d browsed, and found that I felt more confident with Oak Tree’s approach, knowledge of Service leavers and in-depth understanding of the resettlement process.

The training I received from Oak Tree set the foundations for a successful second career: using the qualifications I gained, I have achieved professional recognition for my qualifications and experiences gained in Service and since leaving. I am now completing Chartered Membership of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety having already achieved Fellowship of the Royal Society for Public Health and become a Chartered Manager.

Professionally I have been consulted on a range of health and safety, environmental and business leadership issues by leading brands such as Selfridges, Bulgari, Rolex and Apple. I have advised national bodies such as the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Energy Catapult, and charities such as the Scout Association, on various safety, health and well-being issues. I am now employed by Europe’s leading housing architect practice, PRP, to lead health and safety in design and consider not only how city boroughs, new towns, estates, tall buildings will be built, but how those communities that live and work there and the environment will be safe from harm for generations to come. Looking ahead, I am now taking the skills, qualifications and, above all, the confidence I gained with Oak Tree to university to complete a master’s degree, and am about to start as a volunteer board member responsible for safety and security for the British Red Cross, both at home and overseas.