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Transition to Civilian Employment

Volume 698: debated on Monday 5 July 2021

We are always striving to improve transition, but it is a success story. In 2019-20, 84% of service leavers were employed within six months, which is higher than the UK employment rate of 76%. We offer support through the Career Transition Partnership. We have also introduced a national insurance holiday for employers of veterans and a guaranteed interview for those applying to the civil service. This acknowledges that veterans bring discipline and huge employability to the workplace.

The average unemployment rate across the general population in this country is 4.8%, whereas for veterans the rate is a very concerning 7%. Can the Minister say why the Armed Forces Bill does not include employment within its scope?

In contrast to what the hon. Lady says, in reality the statistics show that the picture is very positive. If we compare like for like, veterans are overwhelmingly in good employment, which reflects an overall demand in the civilian sector to take on veterans, especially in growing sectors such as a telecoms and construction, because of the magnificent skillsets they bring to those jobs.

I welcome the work of the Career Transition Partnership, but the Minister must be aware that some estimates suggest that unemployment among ex-service personnel aged 18 to 49 is double the national average. Has he asked his Department for Work and Pensions colleagues to consider the simple suggestion of the Centre for Social Justice to include an obligatory question on initial Jobcentre Plus registration: “Have you ever served in the UK armed forces?”?

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s question. I am content—I have seen it for myself—that the DWP is now very much veteran-aware. I have been very impressed with its veteran-friendly approach; 10 days ago, I saw an armed forces champion in a DWP Jobcentre Plus office. Government’s joined-up response in ensuring that every Department makes itself aware of veterans is already bearing fruit.