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Smooth your transition
On leaving the Forces, you may still have many years ahead of you in the civilian workplace, which means it’s important to make the most of the resettlement options open to you. This five-step guide will help you to plan …
It’s likely that your last few weeks in the Forces will be frantic, and in all the changes you may overlook planning for a smooth transition into a civilian career and the rest of your life. But setting aside time before you leave and looking at all your resettlement options will provide the solid foundation you need to build your new career.
Step 1: Plan, research and seek advice
Ensure that you use your Standard Learning Credits (SLC) and Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) to build skills well in advance. Then research your career opportunities and entry requirements online. Talk to your Career or Employment Consultant about what’s available in your area. The CTP runs three-day (or shorter) workshops at its Resettlement Centres. The Career Transition Workshop (CTW), for example, leads you through civilian employment and teaches all-important skills such as writing a CV, applying for jobs, and interview techniques. The CTP also offers one-to-one career counselling.
Step 2: Find out about financial support
Check whether you are eligible for: Graduated Resettlement Time (GRT) (see box for full details); an Individual Resettlement Training Costs (IRTC) grant; and travel and subsistence support. Depending on how long you have been in the Forces, you may be entitled to between four and seven weeks’ resettlement time. Your Service Resettlement Adviser can help here.
CHECKLIST: CHOOSING YOUR TRAINING PROVIDER
- Does the training provider have a good reputation? Does your consultant know of them? What’s the opinion of former students? Do any relevant institutes and associations have advice and information?
- Are formal qualifications or membership to institutions available from the provider, and are these valued? Who accredits these qualifications?
- Is there an introductory seminar? What can you find out about the quality of instruction? What are the class sizes? What’s the quality of the equipment and facilities?
- How long is the course? How much study is class-based and how much is self-study? Is there any pre-course self-study?
Step 3: Consider course options
Ideally (using SLC and ELC), undertake any major learning that leads to employment before your resettlement time starts. Then use your last few weeks to take courses or finish qualifications that will attract civilian employers. You should also consider courses that help to update your skills and aptitudes, or take training that results in qualifications for a specific job. Many skills, such as computing and driving, are now an everyday part of working life. If you are thinking about becoming self-employed, there are courses and loans to help you do this, too.
Step 4: Do a self-audit
- Look at the qualifications, skills and experience you already have and those required for any course you might consider. Can you build on them to overcome any skills gaps?
- You may already have a level of learning and/or experience that will count towards a qualification. But do you need a pre-course course? Do employers in the area in which you wish to resettle value your chosen qualification? Are there other qualifications that will equip you for the same job? Check this out before you commit.
- Consider all the details of the course. Does the method of delivery – classes, private study, distance or supported open learning, the internet – suit your learning style? How much time do you have available for study? What access do you have to the internet or other learning tools? If you are staying in accommodation while attending this course, is there evening access to study rooms? Is there a requirement for out-of-hours work? Is this training or qualification really going to help you become employed in the sector and at the level you want? How do you get the course signed off by your resettlement officer? What paperwork is required?
Researching and considering the answers to these questions will help you to make the most of the resettlement training opportunities available to you. Additionally, you can seek advice through the CTP, so do contact your Career Consultant or local Regional Employment and Training Manager (RETM; RETMs are located at Resettlement Centres). These people work closely with employers and training providers in your region and will know exactly what’s available. The Course Booking & Information Centre (CBIC) can give general advice on course content, along with making bookings and taking payments. Further information and contact details can be found at www.ctp.org.uk
Training at the CTP’s Resettlement Training Centre, Aldershot, and at some Resettlement Centres: the CTP offers two types of training – contract-funded courses, provided by the MoD, and non-contract-funded courses. Contract-funded courses effectively cost 5% of your IRTC grant for each day you attend, so this will ‘buy’ you 20 days. (You could also attend other contract-funded courses on a standby basis.) The cost of non-contract-funded training is paid from grants available to you. This can be taken any time in the last two years before discharge, but is usually taken in the final nine months. All CTP services (including training) are available for two years after discharge (training on a standby basis).
Civilian training attachment: this is formal training at a civilian college, company or training establishment. It is eligible for IRTC funding and usually takes place in the last nine months of service.
Civilian work attachment: this is attachment to a company for on-the-job training and work experience, and can take place any time in the last two years of service. It is not eligible for IRTC funding, but travel and subsistence may be payable.
Individual resettlement preparation: this time can be used for your own resettlement activities, although it isn’t IRTC funded. It can be taken any time in the last two years of service and GRT travel warrants will be given.
Step 5: Think about costs
You may need to invest your own money in, or towards, these courses or qualifications, so when considering the cost it may be helpful to remember that this investment isn’t just about the course – it’s about your future in a civilian environment. Be aware that exam or certification fees may be additional to course fees, so if you are budgeting you will need to take account of this. Other financial implications include the following.
- Accommodation: is the cost of this included in the course?
- Location: what are the travelling costs?
- Study materials: will you need to buy course materials or books?
Ensure that you use your SLC entitlement in the years leading up to resettlement, and ELC while serving, during resettlement and in the five years after you leave, as well as your IRTC grant, accommodation and travel entitlements. Be aware that you can now use either SLC or ELC under certain circumstances (your SRA will be able to advise), and remember that you may receive free tuition fees for your first level 3 qualification, foundation degree or undergraduate degree for five years after you leave the Forces.
Finally … relax!
Having been in the Forces, you will be used to planning, seeking the advice of others, researching, analysing data, strategising, seeing the whole picture, understanding the minutiae, then using a calm and focused approach to carry out the task. Resettlement is no different. Use these skills as you approach this transition, and carry them through into your training, learning and, ultimately, new career.
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust (AFCFT) has provided SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity with a grant of £250,000 to...
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