At the end of July Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced
the opening of a new Office for Veterans’ Affairs, a hub established to
coordinate and drive Government policy on veterans’ mental and physical health,
education and employment.
While this is clearly an excellent development, at Sopra
Steria we believe that responsibility for helping veterans to access rewarding
and gainful employment extends beyond the UK Government and into the private
sector. There are initiatives that industry can drive to support the
effectiveness of this new office, leveraging technology to bring together the
The Armed Forces community possesses a wealth of qualities
business. In our organisation we have often found that veterans come to us
having held posts of phenomenal responsibility, sometimes having managed teams
that are much larger and more complex than those that they’ll encounter in the
To engage and retain such outstanding individuals, it is important that businesses bear in mind that many veterans and other members of the Armed Forces community (including spouses of serving members, reservists and cadet instructors) have differing professional and personal development needs from their counterparts. The Armed Forces are unique; our conventions and turns of phrase often baffle the uninitiated! Leaving the familial military environment and entering the commercial sphere can be a big step, even for a community known for its grit and agility.
It is for this reason that I and other business leaders at Sopra Steria signed the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in 2013. Our public commitment signals to veterans that we value the contribution that they can bring to our organisation and offer practical help and support to facilitate their introduction to a domain less familiar. I am delighted that we have now been awarded Bronze status under the Employer Recognition Scheme; an important step that sets out our intention to structure and professionalise our approach to Armed Forces community engagement. Bronze Award is a stepping stone on our journey to best practice, a destination that will rank us employer of choice for these talented people. We will focus new energy on this in the coming months, with the aim to digitally-enable this powerful community.
Vern Davis – Managing Director for Aerospace, Defence and Security
This weekend, more than 300 events were held across the UK
to mark Armed Forces Day.
As an Armed Forces Corporate Covenant signatory Sopra Steria
encouraged employees to support their local events, in order to acknowledge the
community who protect our nation with honour and courage.
The Armed Forces community – including not only veterans,
but reservists, cadet instructors and spouses of serving members – plays a
vital role in the fabric of Sopra Steria UK. This is not an accident; the Armed
Forces equip individuals with exceptional training, resourcefulness and
transferable skills, all of which can enhance an organisation’s effectiveness.
However, the civilian workplace can sometimes be a worrying
prospect for a member of the Armed Forces community – particularly new veterans
who may be struggling to adapt to their new way of life. A Sopra Steria
employee recounts: ‘I thought leaving the military after 25 years and moving
into the corporate world would be extremely daunting.’ Happily the employee in
question grew to recognise that the skills he gained were extremely valuable to
the business: ‘They helped me to see that skills and experience I had gained
over the years were transferable, which immediately put my mind at ease, making
my transition into the civilian world so much easier.’
This is sadly not the case for all veterans, as outlined by
the charity Veterans Work following a recent report: ‘Across the country, three
in ten businesses admit they have not even considered employing veterans. While
the majority claim to be more open minded, 60 per cent of businesses rule out
recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience. There are
roughly 700,000 veterans currently in employment, over half find themselves in
routine, low-skilled or low-paid jobs. It is an alarming waste of talent.’ In
this company we recognise the potential in Service veterans, even if they often
don’t recognise it themselves.
It is in the interest of businesses like ours to facilitate
such transitions by creating welcoming and supportive working environments, underpinned
by core values; this resonated with me when I joined Sopra Steria as an Armed
Forces veteran. We have more work to do as part of our pro-active Armed Forces
Engagement Initiative, but I’m proud to lead a team that includes many members
of the Armed Forces community who are thriving and fulfilled in their careers.
Vern Davis, Head of Aerospace, Defence & Security