Auto industry in drive to recruit Service leavers
Both the automotive sector and veterans rallied to offer help and support during the pandemic, deploying vehicle fleets and transporting PPE to hospitals and vulnerable communities. Recognising this valuable connection, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has pledged its commitment to advocate for the recruitment and retention of ex-military personnel across the automotive industry …
Having recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has pledged its commitment to ex-Forces personnel in terms of promoting best practice, fostering a culture and ethos of inclusivity, and making the commercial case for other automotive companies to join it in signing up to the Covenant. The signing reaffirms the work done through its Mission Automotive initiative, dedicated to placing ex-Service men and women in jobs across the sector, set up in partnership with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Forces’ charity Mission Motorsport, and supported by the Ministry of Defence.
Making the process as easy as possible, SMMT has helped its members create tailored engagement programmes, guiding and aligning their interactions with the Armed Forces community. Some 55 SMMT member companies already work with the Armed Forces community, employing veterans, Service leavers and their spouses across all parts of the automotive supply chain, from cars to commercial vehicles, across design, manufacturing, repair and through to retail and logistics.
As the UK looks to secure battery gigafactory investment ahead of the 2030 phase-out of the sale of conventional petrol and diesel engine cars and vans, the automotive industry hopes to help fill the skills gap with Service leavers, offering opportunities for development and mapped-out career paths, which translate military skills into the qualifications required by the sector. Many Service personnel are uniquely suited to this industry, with experience of high-voltage equipment and other technologies. Veterans, therefore, are potentially some of the best candidates for roles working in electric and hydrogen vehicle manufacturing and engineering.
The past year and a half has tested the auto industry’s resilience as the UK (indeed the world) has battled covid, with the sector keeping essential services and key workers moving, supporting the vulnerable and even manufacturing ventilators. Many automotive companies have worked with veteran volunteers to redeploy vehicle fleets across the country to transport medical supplies and PPE.
Say Mission Motorsport CEO James Cameron, ‘The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise, a commitment to ensure that those who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should not be disadvantaged by their service to the country. Service leavers and veterans are a national resource, and SMMT has been innovative in helping its members to share best practice, support one another and harness that potential. By helping to make the commercial case for companies, SMMT’s engagement and advocacy through its Mission Automotive initiative will encourage other industry bodies to follow suit and this should be celebrated.’
‘The skills and training military personnel bring to civilian employers are incredibly important,’ adds Johnny Mercer MP, an ex-Army Officer himself and formerly Minister for Defence People and Veterans. ‘By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, employers are harnessing the value that the Armed Forces community contributes to business. That is why it is vitally important that employers publicly pledge their support for the Armed Forces community – it means a lot to the cohort that we are trying to represent. In this field, it is hard to find a better exemplar of best practice than SMMT.’
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes continues, ‘Upskilling our industry will be crucial as new technologies transform the sector, and ex-military personnel are an often-untapped talent pool that can provide these in-demand skills. We are incredibly proud to support Mission Motorsport in helping Service leavers embark on new career paths, and signing the Armed Forces Covenant cements SMMT’s long-term commitment to this cause. As events of the past 18 months have shown, the veteran community is a real asset to automotive businesses and will be central not just to a successful and sustainable recovery, but to our future success as we transition to a connected, autonomous and zero-emissions future.’
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Jo Parker, ex-RAF, Steven Eagell Toyota workshop controller
‘Being part of the Mission Automotive initiative has changed my life. I am now in secure full-time employment with an employee who recognises the talent that ex-Service personnel can bring to a team. I would wholeheartedly recommend that a Service leaver wanting to get in to the automotive industry speak to the guys at Mission Motorsport. They have first-hand experience of what it like to leave the Services, and a great understanding of the automotive industry.’
Alex Fogg, former Royal Engineer, Arrival Logistics store manager
‘With the help of Mission Motorsport and the Mission Automotive initiative I have a career that has not only changed my life but is also incredibly therapeutic for me. I couldn’t be happier.’
About Mission Motorsport
Mission Motorsport is the Forces’ motorsport charity. With the motto ‘Race Retrain Recover’, it is MoD’s competent authority for motorsport as a recovery activity, and a Royal Foundation (the charitable trust of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and Endeavour Fund supported initiative.
The charity’s dedicated career managers have placed more than 200 Wounded, Injured and Sick Service leavers into employment since the inaugural Invictus Games in September 2014. More than 2,000 veterans have found work through the charity’s programmes.
As a Services charity and member of the Confederation of Service Charities, Mission Motorsport has an award-winning collaborative model of working with government and the other Services charities. It is funded by the government’s Positive Pathways programme, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the Forces’ Trust and the Greenwich Hospital, as well as by industry partners and through independent fundraising.
As part of the MoD’s Career Transition Partnership, the charity helps those leaving the military to find employment in the automotive industry. An Institute of the Motor Industry and LANTRA training provider, Mission Motorsport’s training wing delivers a range of qualifications up to and including level 3 diploma courses and full apprenticeships, enabling Service leavers to bridge the gap between military service and second careers as civilians, beyond injury.