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Digital skills in demand!

Digital skills in demand!


26 Jun, 2022

A pioneering new pilot project has been launched that aims to tackle the UK’s digital skills shortage by drawing on the talents of Service leavers to fill skills gaps in areas such as cyber security operations, project management and engineering …

The shortage of skilled people to fill digital and cyber roles in the UK is well known, and continues to grow, but a newly launched innovative employment programme aims to close these skills gaps using the military talent pool. SaluteMyJob, in partnership with the South West and Swindon and Wilts Cyber Security Clusters, IBM, Hirevue and SHL is launching a pilot of its new Cyber Career Jumpstart programme, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

With this new initiative, SaluteMyJob – a social enterprise that supports former Service men and women into civilian employment – is focusing on targeted pathways for veterans, military spouses and reservists to support them to train and discover roles where employers are faced with business-critical skills shortages. Given their acquired skills and experience, willingness to learn and ‘can do’ attitude, people from the Armed Forces community are well placed to fill these gaps in digital skills, including areas such as cyber security operations, project management and engineering. 


  • Security mind-set: Ex-military personnel have extensive military security and risk management training and experience. They have applied these skills in the most challenging situations and start their planning with security as the first priority, not an afterthought. With cyber warfare on the rise, a growing number of individuals within the Armed Forces will have been specially trained in threat intelligence, risk management, compliance and cyber security, readying them to join the civilian cyber battle space. 
  • Adaptability: Military veterans are used to regularly adapting to different roles, new teams and different responsibilities. As a result, they are highly motivated, adaptable and quick to learn. They also know that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, so their flexibility in execution, and in a crisis, is a skill developed and tested in fast-paced and ambiguous situations. Such breadth of experience is unrivalled and makes them highly employable in the commercial world. 
  • Cross-functional soft skills: Organisations that employ veterans report that they exhibit much needed cross-functional skills, notably team-working capabilities, powers of communication, problem-solving and organisational skills, strategic thinking and the ability to motivate others.
  • Team skills: Whether team members or team leaders, veterans offer proven team skills, with increasing responsibilities placed on them as they progress through the ranks. These skills, experience in managing risks and the ‘mission-focused’ ability to get things done are all key proficiencies that make ex-military personnel the kind of contributors and leaders that are sought after by employers. 
  • Able to work under pressure: Front-line roles in cyber incident management need people who can be trusted to deal with high-pressure situations quickly and effectively. Ex-military personnel are accustomed to working in highly pressurised operational environments, and know how to act decisively and calmly, a skill gained from experience of working across geographies and diverse environments.

Dave Jenkins, UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

The project is designed to attract, select, qualify and place job-seekers from the Armed Forces community either into work placements or employment. Unlike other initiatives that focus on skills training, the Cyber Career Jumpstart programme uses such training as the means to an employment end, not as the end in itself. Another key difference is the active engagement of signed-up employer partners, who will offer advice, support and practical cyber work experience.

Wood plc chief information and security officer, Malcolm Norman, a military veteran himself, says: ‘Having made the transition from the Armed Forces myself, I understand the need to realign military skills and experience to be “fit to fight” on the commercial battlefield. The Cyber Career Jumpstart programme is exactly what is needed to raise awareness of opportunities (especially in the burgeoning cyber security sector), provide relevant skills and qualifications and, most important of all, provide practical, hands-on experience. We are delighted to partner with SaluteMyJob to help develop the programme, offer work placements and, potentially, employment opportunities.’

Durgan Cooper, managing director of CETSAT, adds: ‘Like many specialist businesses, CETSAT's growth and success is dependent on skilled, quality employees. The skills gap in the cyber sector is well known; solutions to the problem, however, are in short supply. As a military veteran myself, I am delighted to support and actively engage my business with the Cyber Career Jumpstart programme and look forward to seeing cyber security become a career destination of choice for people from across the Armed Forces community.’

SaluteMyJob managing director Andrew Jackson continues: ‘We’re now able to team up with employers and like-minded organisations to offer defined, practical pathways to employment for members of the 6 million-strong UK Armed Forces community. We all need guidance and support when transitioning from military to civilian life, so these pathways, and the work placements and job opportunities offered by employer partners, are designed to provide practical – and free – journeys into the roles where they are most needed.’ 

A key enabler of the project is IBM’s SkillsBuild platform. This provides access to online and project-based learning for the initial cohort of 100 learners. On successful completion of the eight training modules and an assessment, participants will receive a professional certification as a data analyst. Employer-partners will then offer practical work experience to allow learners to develop and apply their skills, and to improve their CV, or jobs for those with the requisite skills and experience. The training pathways are designed to help those in the Armed Forces community hone new skills, fill gaps in their CVs, and begin a new career in digital roles, including cyber security, engineering, and project and security operations management. These sectors are experiencing a shortage of skilled people and the military talent pool is well equipped to fill these positions with their highly sought-after soft and hard skills.

Julian Meyrick, vice president at WW Security Strategy Risk & Compliance, has influenced the SkillsBuild cyber security offerings based on how he sees the industry evolving. He says: ‘We need to increase diversity in thought to address the challenge of a very diverse set of threat actors in cyber security. That’s why we’re broadening the ecosystem to develop and deploy talent. By partnering with organisations rooted in diverse communities, providing high-quality qualifications as an alternative to a four-year degree, and bringing industry on board to offer placements, we can give opportunities to those often left behind, while at the same time narrowing the critical skills gap.’

Menbahadur (Men) Gurung, a Cyber Career Jumpstart learner now working for IBM, comments: ‘I knew when I left the Army that cyber security offered great opportunities for people with military security training and experience. However, coming from an infantry background, I knew very little about the cyber security industry or where to start to get the skills and experience I needed. The Cyber Career Jumpstart programme provided me with an understanding of the fast-developing cyber security world, the technical training I needed and, most important of all, a work placement in a commercial cyber team to develop my skills and apply my knowledge in a practical way. I am delighted that other job-seekers from the Armed Forces community will be able to benefit from the programme and I encourage anyone with military experience to use the programme to help them find a second career in cyber security.’

Like to sign up?

The pilot course is already under way, but for full details of the programme and to register your interest in the next course, click here 

Hear from those who’ve already benefited

To get the personal views of two military veterans who have already ‘been there, done that’ when it comes to experiencing the benefits of enrolling on SaluteMyJob’s free online training platform, IBM’s SkillsBuild, click here to check out our case study of Men Gurung and here to find out about Rich Barratt's transition.


Bridging the gap between employers and ex-military job-seekers, SaluteMyJob helps veterans to transition into civilian employment and realise their potential.

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