Dr Ross Moloney, CEO of Skills for Logistics, looks at the success of the Military work Placement Scheme (MWPS) for getting ex-military personnel into logistics.
Last year’s Military work Placement Scheme (MWPS) was a great success. It struck a chord in our sector, judging by the uptake and delivery of the scheme and from the feedback given at a prestigious gathering in February that was my pleasure to host.
Leading logistics employers and military top brass came together at, appropriately, London’s Naval and Military Club – also known as the ‘In and Out Club’ – in St James’ Square, to celebrate the success of the MWPS and to investigate the way forward for future schemes.
The pilot MWPS involved a free, two-week work placement for individuals going through resettlement and who were unsure of what they would do next. The placement gave them opportunity ‘try out’ a career in logistics, while also giving the employer a chance to observe how service leavers would fit into their company. It was a great success, with 1,000 placements being achieved, and even though this scheme was about work placements, more than 250 people secured permanent jobs at the end of their experience.
Employers involved in last year’s pilot scheme were happy to discuss how pleased they had been with the calibre of individual who had taken their placements. They reported that the scheme enabled the hard working, efficient and trustworthy candidates produced by the military to decide whether a career in logistics was for them. So, I was particularly grateful for the opportunity at this meeting to highlight the need to build on this scheme.
The meeting developed into an interactive discussion to examine how the military and logistics employers can work together with SfL to make future schemes happen. Concerns were raised around the planned increase in the ‘reservist’ element of military personnel, in particular: what would be the duration of absence and how much notice would employers be given for their employees to commit to the military requirements?
Among those employers who currently have ex-military personnel workers, it was not clear how many reservists they had on their staff and how much this had disrupted their business.
Moving forward, it would seem that greater information about reservists would be beneficial, as would clearer communication between employers and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help understand military terminology and translate this into civilian language.
SfL board Member Brig. Al Deas MBE, emphasised that it was important for SfL to work closely with the Careers Transition Partnership (CTP) to smooth out these communications issues and that each person who embarks on the scheme is ‘work ready’ so that when an employer sees potential, then a seamless transition could be made into any job role that is offered.
It was suggested that, going forward, employers also need to work more closely with the CTP, which is government funded and is suitably placed to support employer needs in terms of finding military leavers who are ready to embark on civilian careers. The military already invest heavily in this and employers should take advantage. The CTP or the MoD could also hold the key to supplying personnel when reservists are called into action.
It was mooted that employers could be incentivised to become involved with a similar scheme in the future through, for example, a tax incentive or a subsidy for training costs, including Driver CPCs. There was agreement that more investigation is required into the non-financial impact on businesses, which include the positive impact on productivity and vital benefit from the inherent military qualities such as loyalty, retention and time keeping.
The MWPS is clearly a great scheme and we are currently investigating ways to source funding to build on the pilot’s success. We already have plans to roll out a local MWPS in Doncaster and Oxford, and will also be discussing with Brig Jon Brittain, head of defence logistic policy at UK Ministry of Defence, who was at the meeting, about turning the MWPS into policy.