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Employment (Veterans)

Volume 548: debated on Monday 16 July 2012

Prior to leaving, all service personnel are entitled to some form of resettlement assistance consisting of time, money and training, according to their length of service. Those who have served for six years or more, and all those medically discharged, regardless of how long they served for, are entitled to the full resettlement programme, which includes a three-day career transition workshop, the use of a career consultant, a job-finding service, and retraining time and a retraining grant. Those who have served for four years or more are entitled to employment support in the form of a bespoke job-finding service and career interview.

May I invite the Minister to borrow or even steal an excellent idea from the Labour Front-Bench team—the Labour veterans interview programme, where leading companies guarantee veterans interviews for appropriate vacancies—and include that as part of the official resettlement programme? Will he support the calls to roll that programme out through Jobcentre Plus, as it would be a great boon for our armed services?

Having previously extolled the merits of a career in the armed forces, may I recommend to all employers the merits of employing ex-service personnel, who, in general, bring with them a better work ethic and better values, and often better skills, than people from outside the armed forces? So I think that we would agree on that matter. We welcome the guaranteed interview scheme and would welcome all assistance.

Most veterans do extremely well in civilian life, not least because of the skills they have acquired while they have been in uniform. However, those who do less well, especially in employment terms, tend to be those who have spent relatively few years in the armed forces, and that is where resources are not focused. What can be done for that particular group of people?

My hon. Friend is right about that, and I know that he takes a particular interest in these things. Of course various factors are at work here, one of which is that some people leave after less than a week and do not stay in touch, in any way, with the armed forces. We are looking at improving the career resettlement advice. Indeed, we are ensuring that everybody now gets a resettlement interview and gets some financial and employment advice when they leave.

21. How many veterans have lost the opportunity of a job as a result of the G4S Olympics fiasco?


On that same theme, does the Minister agree that it would have been good if G4S had recruited more veterans to police the Olympics and ensure security? Will he confirm that what has happened will not result in a single serving soldier in Afghanistan having to stay on the front line for one day longer than would otherwise have been the case?

First, I can confirm that nobody will remain longer on operations in Afghanistan because of this debacle over the G4S contract. I will say to my hon. Friend, as he would expect me to, that I absolutely agree that former service personnel would do that job particularly well, but I have no responsibility for the recruitment practices of G4S. However, it appears that it was not recruiting that was the problem but the organisation of the Olympics in general in terms of security.