HR · 2 March 2016

Armed service personnel increasingly utilised by smaller firms recruiting

Individuals coming out of the military have a growing number of options
Individuals coming out of the military have a growing number of options

Britain’s small businesses are increasingly positive about recruiting former servicemen and reservists, with the number of firms seeing the benefits in hiring workers with service experience increasing over the last three years.

In the first ever study into the employment of service leavers from a small business perspective, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found “clear evidence” of the progress that has been made in improving the package of support available to small firms hiring reservists.

The study showed a clear preference amongst the owners of Britain’s smaller firms for recruiting service leaders over reservists, with 65 per cent of employers stating that they’d be willing to hire ex-service men and women. The number of small firms that would actively consider hiring a reservist has also increased, up from 46 per cent in 2013 to 49 per cent in 2016.

Despite the progress, the FSB has called on the government to do more to highlight the benefits of hiring reservists and service leavers.

The FSB’s policy director, Mike Cherry, commented: “The financial support now on offer to a small employer can help to cover the cost when a member of staff is deployed. But there are clearly still challenges to overcome. We would like to see more small businesses supporting our troops – they serve our country and the skills they come back with are diverse and often invaluable.”

The important difference between reservists and service leavers is active service.  Three in five small firm owners said in the survey that they’d struggle to cope with day-to-day operations should a reservist in their employ be called up for duty.

The study’s findings implied that many more small firms would hire reservists and service leaders if the right package of support were put in place, alongside better access to information.

Almost two thirds of respondent companies said that service leavers bring unique experience and insight to business, whilst 54 per cent said the same about reservists.

In response to the study, government minister for reserves Julian Brazier thanked the growing number of firms hiring service personnel. “It is very encouraging to see more small employers finding the value of the unique skills and expertise that reservists and service leaders can bring to their business,” he said.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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