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Transferable skills – your vocational vaccine

Transferable skills – your vocational vaccine


25 May, 2021

As you prepare for employment, shining a light on the many transferable skills – ‘soft’ as well as technical – you can demonstrate thanks to your military career will help you in your quest to secure work, says Claire Withey, an associate solicitor in the military claims team at specialist law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp …

The Covid pandemic defined 2020 as an unprecedented and challenging year for everyone, and 2021 is currently following in its footsteps. Despite the swift rollout of the UK vaccine programme, the impact of the pandemic will be long-lasting – not least for those who are attempting to secure employment. This, of course, includes many Service personnel who have either come to the end of their military service or have been medically discharged and are having to make the transition to civilian life in more difficult circumstances than usual. You may well be among them.

It is also, however, the perfect time to shine a light on the many transferable skills military personnel develop during their service, which have proven invaluable not only in the nation’s response to the Covid pandemic, but also in securing civilian employment during challenging times.

A veteran’s transferable skills

Training in the Armed Forces is a unique experience and with it comes a wealth of skills that are not easily matched. While Service life can be tough, there can be no doubt that it provides you with a level of expertise and cutting-edge skills that can last a lifetime and set you apart from civilian competitors for the same role.

Service personnel develop many technical skills in their field of expertise, but they also develop more interpersonal skills too, like teamwork and self-management, as well as characteristics like resilience and determination. These are the sorts of attributes that civilian employers admire, and many are already aware of the huge benefits of employing veterans in their workforce.

How many of these can you tick off?

Some of the many skills and attributes veterans possess include:

  • teamworking skills
  • self-management
  • punctuality
  • resilience
  • determination
  • leadership skills
  • technical and analytical skills
  • organisational skills.

The Armed Forces response to the pandemic

The value that the Armed Forces have contributed to the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been remarkable. It only takes a brief glance at the values underpinning Britain’s Armed Forces to understand why they have been such a valuable resource: 

  • loyalty – supporting team-mates and the organisation
  • courage – doing and saying the right thing
  • discipline – particularly self-discipline, which helps to establish and maintain high personal standards and earns the respect of others
  • respect for others – treating others as you expect to be treated
  • integrity – being honest with yourself and your team-mates
  • selfless commitment – putting the team first.

This has been no better demonstrated than by Operation Broadshare, the codename for the Armed Forces’ overseas response to the pandemic. Nothing demonstrates more the above values or the contribution they make to our safety and security.

The Armed Forces have provided a Covid Support Force, which has seen 700 members of the Armed Forces deployed to assist civilian authorities with the response to the pandemic. The Coldstream Guards have delivered diagnostic equipment in the north of the country and other medical equipment to the south. The Army utilised all of its skills – logistics, engineering and medical – to make a massive contribution to turning London’s Excel Centre into the NHS Nightingale, a 4,000-bed hospital. Army Engineers helped with the delivery of power, heating, lighting and ventilation, along with a supply of oxygen to intensive care units.

The response to the pandemic is something to be very proud of. In January, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the Armed Forces’ response had become the biggest ever homeland military operation in peacetime, with more than 5,000 personnel involved.

Together with the NHS, military personnel are helping to roll out the Covid mass vaccination programme, with three vaccines now approved for use in the UK. They have been involved in the delivery and distribution of the vaccine, and have established vaccine centres, while Army medics have been involved in administering vaccines to military veterans.

The Forces have been heavily involved in mobile and community testing too, and since 23 December 2020 have carried out more than 44,000 tests. They have also provided training to others on how to conduct Covid testing.

More than 2,400 military medical professionals have been deployed to work alongside the NHS each day, according to the MoD.

As the admirable work the Armed Forces have done, and continue to do, in response to the pandemic is thrust into the spotlight, civilian employers will see more than ever the many skills and values that those who have served can offer, shining a light not only on the technical skills they can offer, but the soft, transferable skills too.

Practical tips for securing employment

First and foremost, it is important to appreciate that training for the Armed Forces provides a wealth of opportunity to obtain skills, qualifications and training while serving – far in excess of most civilian organisations. Service personnel should look at these skills as providing a real advantage to their job applications.

There are many trade-specific skills that service personnel have, and their technical expertise is highly sought after, particularly in the engineering, logistics, aviation, maritime and security industries. Some ex-Service personnel also choose to utilise their work ethic to re-train, and to eventually move into roles in finance, teaching and law, among other professions.

So what practical advice can we offer Service personnel looking for work during a pandemic? Here are a few pointers …

  • List your key skills and achievements, which employers might find useful.
  • Have confidence in your abilities and the many skills you have to offer.
  • Speak with a careers adviser or approach one of the many military charities who may be able to help with your resettlement.
  • Think about what work you might like to do in the short and long term, and what roles your skills might match.

It is also helpful that the military have become much more aware in recent years of the challenges faced by those transitioning to civilian life, and of the support that is required to make that transition as smooth as possible. The military recognises that support in these areas is important to ensure a better and healthier quality of life for those leaving the Forces. As a result, there are now far more support networks available for veterans during this transitional period. These include:

  • the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), which provides resettlement support to eligible Service leavers and their spouses
  • the numerous military charities that offer career and resettlement advice, workshops and careers fairs, such as the Poppy Factory, SSAFA and the RFEA
  • the Royal British Legion, which offers support, advice and guidance on securing alternative employment on leaving the Forces …
  • while Veterans’ Gateway is an excellent first port of call to point you in the direction of the precise kind of support you need.

Future employers will see veterans in an even more positive light following their efforts during the pandemic, and even though securing work in the current climate is challenging, veterans undoubtedly have a lot to offer.

It is also vital to be kind to yourself when seeking work. It is easy to have self-doubt in such trying times, but it is important to have confidence in your skills and achievements, and a clear understanding of what you can bring to the table.


Claire is an associate solicitor in the military claims team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, with a strong background in both claimant and defendant litigation.  She has particularly extensive experience in dealing with claims relating to orthopaedic and spinal injuries. She is tenacious, but approachable, and works hard to achieve the very best for her clients.

Claire is a keen runner having undertaken several 10k runs and half marathons for various charities, and is now planning fundraising activity for the military charities that help her clients.