Civil service starts rollout of guaranteed job interview for veterans

Handful of government departments will guarantee ex-service personnel interviews or online tests
Photo: Amtec Photos/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Former military personnel who apply to work at a host of government departments will be guaranteed a job interview under a scheme launched this week.

As of this week, job recruitment campaigns run by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and the Home Office, including UK Border Force, include the option for veterans to apply under the guaranteed interview scheme.

Those that meet the minimum criteria required for the job will be move onto the next stage of the recruitment process,  such as an interview or online test.

The scheme, which was announced in February, had been due to launch earlier this year, but was delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

In an announcement this week, the Office for Veterans' Affairs said the move "delivers on a manifesto commitment and is the most recent step in a wider commitment from the government to make the civil service a more welcoming place for veterans".

The pledge, which appeared in the 2019 Conservative Party general election manifesto, was not limited to the civil service,  but said: “We will offer a guaranteed job interview for veterans for any public sector role they apply for.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson confirmed more departments would opt into the scheme in future.

Veterans' affairs minister Johnny Mercer told CSW that the scheme was "another indication of the government's commitment to changing what it means to be a veteran in the UK in 2020", along with the introduction of a Veterans’ Railcard and National Insurance holidays for businesses that employ veterans.

"These are each incremental gains that will make a real difference for people who’ve served this country in the military and have come out afterwards and found the workplace perhaps not as welcoming as we’d have liked," he said.

Mercer, a former army officer, said ex-servicepeople often found themselves competing for jobs for people “who have understood for years how best to advertise their skills”.

“In the military that’s not something we’re particularly good at understanding the skillset we learn or the capabilities we have. Things like this level the playing field a bit," he said.

And Mercer said government could benefit from the skills that former armed service members had to offer.

“I think the civil service is great but the personality traits and characteristics and ethos of veterans merging with the civil service could be a really powerful combination. Some of the basic skills you learn in the military around discipline and team ethos and selfless commitment – these are all the things that we aspire to have in our civil service as well," he said.

"If we can just get young people over the line in terms of getting them to understand the skillset they gained in the military, for example by getting them to interview, then I think it’s really positive. The more interviews they go to, the better they’ll get at it and they’ll end up in a fantastic job, which I’m clear is the single biggest determinant of someone’s life chances once they leave the military."

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