A new project to help ex-military personnel get their foot back onto the employment ladder is to be set up in South Tyneside.
The Ex-Service Personnel and Reservists Employment Project will be developed by South Tyneside Council to promote the benefits of employing ex-military personnel and reservists.
The project will involve the recruitment of a dedicated project worker to act as a link between ex-servicemen and reservists with employers and the business community, existing organisations supporting ex-servicemen as well as the community and voluntary sector.
There are also plans to run a regular weekly drop-in service for ex-military to get information and advice from a wide range of organisations on issues relating not only to employment but housing, training, finance as well as their overall health and wellbeing.
The project will be helped by a £20,000 from the Ministry Of Defence’s Covenant Fund which was announced this week.
Coun Ed Malcom, chair of the South Tyneside Armed Forces Forum said: “We recognise is can be difficult to move into a mainstream career after leaving the Armed Forces which is why we are dedicated to setting up this project to boost the support and services available to ex-Service personnel and reservists.
“We already have a proven track record of working with ex-servicemen having had an Armed Services Community Covenant in place since they were introduced in 2011.
“We also recognise the massive talent, skills and experience that veterans can bring to local business. There are skill shortages in vital areas of the job market, which we feel this project can help fill by ensuring that veterans have the opportunity to find jobs in the right areas for their skill set.
“The project will establish a more joined up approach to connect ex-servicemen and reservists with employers, as well as other organisations.
“Due to our existing strong links with the business community we are in a great position to coordinate the work to ensure that all organisations offering support to ex-service personnel are working to the same system. This will ensure that individuals get the right support and are presented with the most appropriate opportunities for them to play to their strengths.
“We are committed to making this new project for the Borough a success to help ex-services personnel get back into work.”
The project aims to help at least 50 veterans into employment as well as enlist 20 local businesses to support employment of ex-service personnel and reservists in its first year.
One local ex-serviceman who has benefited from the services currently available is Ross Lloyd a former infantry solider with the Rifles. Ross left the Armed Forces in February of this year and received support from the borough’s services, organisations and veteran’s charities.
His prior work experience in project management before leaving the Armed Forces together with the skills he developed while in the military helped him to gain employment with South Tyneside Council as a trainee project manager.
Ross Lloyd said: “It is hard to transition from the Armed Forces to civilian life. You have a mass of support and clear direction in your barracks and when you leave you can be left to your own devices, which is very unfamiliar.
“The networking available for ex-service personnel in South Tyneside has helped me get my foot in the door and I am really enjoying my new role. I would like to thank South Tyneside Council for taking me on board. My job has allowed me to continue to serve the public, just as I did in the Armed Forces for the past 14years, and allowed me to give back to the community I grew up in.
“The Council’s new project is a great idea as it will help people coming out of the military to gain employment that allows them to harness their particular skill sets and personality traits, gained from their role in the Armed Forces, within a job that utilises their strengths.”
Councillor Ed Malcolm added “This new project builds upon the council’s wealth of existing services and builds upon our strong links with the business sector as well as our excellent relationship with local support organisations and veteran’s charities. With these solid foundations in place we look forward to expanding the support we provide our ex-service personnel with this project and further strengthening our links with employers and organisations.
“We are delighted to have been able to support Ross when he needed help to transition from the Armed Forces back into civilian life and we hope to see many more benefit in the future as we implement this project.
“We hope working more closely with the business sector and support organisations in this way will ensure that our veterans get the opportunities they deserve.”
For more nformation about support for the Armed Forces in South Tyneside visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/armedforces or call South Tyneside Council’s Customer Contract Centre on 427 7000.