Top Tips: How to provide skills and conversion training to former and transitioning military personnel


Most people join the Armed Forces directly from school, college or university. Therefore their knowledge and experience of commerce tends to be limited; similarly their skills do not always transfer directly to the private sector. Therefore, providing preparatory, induction or role-specific skills training helps veterans succeed more quickly in your business. Given the difference to their military way of life and culture, ‘conversion’ training provides an essential introduction to an unfamiliar commercial environment.

Here, Managing Director of SMJ Consulting Services, Andrew Jackson, offers his top tips to employers on how to offer conversion training to transitioning and ex-military personnel.

1. Offer A Bespoke Induction Programme

  • Most employers offer bespoke programmes for graduates or apprentices who are transitioning from education to employment. Consider implementing similar bespoke induction programmes to provide new ex-military recruits with all the information they need to transition into and be a good representative of your organisation. You could also offer skills training on proprietary tools or products that new recruits may be unfamiliar with.

  • At BT OpenReach, new employees are matched up with a buddy to help with their transition and at IBM, when veterans join the business, they offer them an IBM mentor who comes from a similar military background.

2. Focus On A Skills-Gap

Industry experts predict that businesses will need to hire 200,000 data analysts by 2018, with suitably qualified candidates already in short supply. Therefore, SMJ Consulting Services, IBM UK and the Corsham Institute joined together to provide veterans with free training and certification in IBM’s i2 Analyst’s Notebook data analysis and QRadar cyber security products.

  • If your industry has a particular skills gap - look at how your business could target and build a pipeline of suitably qualified veterans as a way of plugging that gap.

  • SMJ Consulting Services’s partnership with IBM and the Corsham Institute has successfully trained around 100 ex-military jobseekers on IBM’s data analysis and cyber security tools to address a growing shortage of data analysts and cyber security specialists. Employers are welcome to visit our courses and to meet the students. All courses are held at our offices in Corsham.


3. Form A Partnership

If you are looking at offering conversion training to fill a particular skills gap, it could be beneficial to partner with a Service charity, SMJ Consulting Services or a representative body with bespoke ex-military programmes, who can give you access to the veteran talent pool.

  • For example, the Buildforce initiative aims to encourage more ex-military people into the construction sector. It offers skills and employment training related to the sector provided by Carillion, one of the Buildforce partners.

4. Introduce Veterans To Employers

If you are partnering up with another organisation to provide conversion training for veterans, invite other employers to visit the training course. The employer will get to see the value of recruiting from the veteran talent pool and for the veteran, they get to expand their network and find out what employers are looking for.

  • For example, on the most recent IBM, SMJ Consulting Services and Corsham Institute training course, a recruiter from Satisnet attended to speak to the students, with four students taken on as apprentices.

5. Reach Out To The Military Community

Reach out, not just to the Career Transition Partnership, but to Service Charities and Regimental Associations to advertise and market your training opportunities to the military community.

Thumbnail Image Source: Defence Imagery