The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 4: Education of Service Personnel - Defence Committee Contents

4  The impact of education on the resettlement of Armed Forces personnel

72. Members of the Armed Forces will nearly always need to pursue a further career after they leave the Armed Forces. Many aspects of a career in the Armed Forces can help Service leavers obtain civilian employment. In particular, education and qualifications gained in the Armed Forces play an important role in future prospects. Armed Forces personnel undertake many qualifications during their time in the Armed Forces, see Table 10 below.

Table 10: Qualifications (excluding apprenticeships) gained by Armed Forces personnel as a result of their Service training
Type of Qualification
Academic year
Stand alone NVQ and other Level 2 13,28217,204 11.195
Stand alone NVQ and other Level 3 6,8138,105 7,592
Stand alone NVQ and other Level 4 2,6702,519 2,249
HND, Foundation Degrees and other level 5 4,7745,113 3,582
Honours Degrees and other level 6 543779 915
Postgraduate Degrees/Diplomas and Higher Degrees 596218 1,578
Total 26,275 33,93827,111

Source: Ministry of Defence[93]

The provision of civilian qualifications

73. We asked if the MoD was doing enough to enable Service personnel to gain a civilian qualification related to their military job. Admiral Williams replied:

    I think, throughout the Service [...] that we fight for and spend the money to accredit that which we do in a military sense, and for a civilian. So flying a fast jet aeroplane, for example—funding the civilian pilot's licence, which seemed at one stage to me to be rather counter-intuitive. You might imagine all the pilots would immediately leave, but actually what it meant was that they felt that they were being invested in and did not feel that there was green grass over the other side that they really wanted to focus on. And it helped retention. So that is the sort of thing—there is a good business reason for doing a lot of this.[94]

Admiral Williams also said that the MoD tried to get civilian accreditation for most of what they did and that they would spend up to an additional 10 per cent on a military training course to ensure that it led to civilian accreditation. The Minister added that if Armed Forces personnel had done 80 per cent of a civilian qualification as part of their military training then there were resources to enable them to get the civilian qualification.[95]

74. We asked the Minister if there were areas where it is not possible to get a civilian qualification, citing naval medics as a possible example. He replied:

    [...] We had a meeting yesterday where this was on the agenda. Part of the issue is that being a paramedic in the national health service is effectively a degree level qualification now. People coming out of the Armed Forces who have very good medical qualifications and who may have served in theatre, do not necessarily have a degree, but would be extremely useful in the back of an ambulance. We are therefore looking at ways to try to provide some form of conversion to allow ex-medics to convert to work, for instance, as paramedics in the ambulance service. Some pilot programmes are under way actually at the moment, with a couple of ambulance trusts. We are looking to learn lessons from that to see how we could roll it out.[96]

The MoD further told us that there were three pilot projects looking at paramedic qualifications in place or being considered. These projects included:

  • scoping a new course for new trainees to close the gap between basic military medic training and what is required to work in civilian ambulances;
  • professional recognition for existing military medics working with Cumbria University and Yorkshire Ambulance Trust; and
  • a possible further project working with West Midlands and East England Ambulance Trust.[97]

75. Given that most Armed Forces personnel will need to have at least one further career, we support the MoD's policy of supporting the provision of civilian qualifications. We recommend that the MoD identify the potential for more pilot projects with civilian employers to develop the provision of civilian qualifications and to ensure that vital skills paid for by the MoD are not lost to the country. The MoD should tell us the results of its pilot projects on the training of paramedics.

Resettlement prospects

76. We put to the MoD that people who join the Armed Forces are not going to remain in Service until they are 65 years old and will need to go on to a civilian working life. Admiral Williams agreed and further said:

    [...] We spend money and we take time and help individuals get accredited, get the kind of qualifications they want to get. There is money available to get civilian qualifications, if you want to go and do something completely different.[98]

77. Armed Forces personnel are entitled to resettlement advice and support when leaving the Services. The support is designed to help personnel leaving the Armed Forces make a successful transition to civilian employment in a suitable further career, which is appropriate to their skills, knowledge, experience and aspirations. The level of support is graduated based on the length of service in the Armed Forces although all those who are medically discharged are entitled to the full resettlement service. For example, those who have served more than six years receive individual career support such as CV writing, interview skill, training and a grant towards other training plus time to attend training. The support is provided by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) which comprises the MoD and recruitment specialists, Right Management.[99]

78. The number of personnel leaving the Armed Forces who have used CTP support has increased from some 9,900 in 2009-10 to 14,900 in 2011-12.[100] Current figures show that between 93 per cent and 95 per cent of leavers receiving CTP resettlement support obtain employment within six months of discharge.[101]

79. We asked if the skills of Armed Forces personnel were readily transferable to civilian employment. Admiral Williams replied:

    [...] if I look at the engagement we have done very recently as part of the FR20 [Future Reserve 2020] work and the Green Paper, those employers who we have managed to engage with appear to venerate and understand those skills that the military brings to their offices. British Telecom, for example, cannot have enough ex-military in its ranks of technicians. [...] If I look at the career transition partnership, we seem to score above 90 per cent in Service people getting a job. That seems to me to be proof that, as long as we work on translating those military skills and trying to put them in words that people will understand, they are there. Of course, we take civilian qualifications wherever we can.[102]

The Minister said that the education received by Service personnel helped them in returning to civilian life. He further said:

    [...] We do not do a GCSE in character formally, but I believe that we help to engender character in the Armed Forces in a way that is attractive to employers.[103]

    He added that former Armed Forces personnel did well in employment:

    If you have served for six years or more, when you leave the forces you get a support package called the Career Transition Partnership—the CTP—and the statistics on this are quite impressive. If you leave the forces, you are looking for work and you have been through the CTP programme, 90 per cent of those people get a job within six months, and 95 per cent of those people get a job within 12 months. We know that because we do tracking surveys that follow their progress.[104]

80. Most Armed Forces personnel do well in gaining employment after leaving the Services. Many employers find ex-Armed Forces personnel very employable. In particular, employers value their disciplined approach, determination and work ethic. We encourage the MoD to continue its support for the resettlement of Armed Forces personnel, particularly in this time of redundancies from the Armed Forces.

93   Ev 18, table 5c Back

94   Q 45 Back

95   Q 65 Back

96   Q 64  Back

97   Ev 25-26 Back

98   Q 45  Back

99   Error! Bookmark not defined.  Back

100   Ev 23 Back

101   Error! Bookmark not defined.  Back

102   Q 39 Back

103   Q 66 Back

104   Q 66 Back

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Prepared 18 July 2013