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Its November again, dont lose your spark

Posted on November 5, 2011

It’s November again – the month traditionally associated with remembering: either ‘gunpowder, treason and plot’ on the 5th or, more importantly, on Remembrance Day, the members of our Armed Forces who have died on duty while serving their country. And, to complement this, remembering is the theme of this month’s ‘From the Editor’.

Its intention is, above all, to urge you to remember that, as you embark on your new civilian life and career, the skills and attributes you have gained in uniform can help you to reap great benefits in your professional and personal life. As WO1 (ASM) Phil Harley states in this month’s rail case study (page 40), ‘I can honestly say that I believe the vast majority of training I received in the Army has been useful in civilian life, be it professional qualifications, the ability to make decisions, bring order from chaos and plan for any eventuality, even to knowing that skin’s waterproof when I’m standing in the rain on some platform! The robustness of personality that the Army has given me has stood me in good stead; the ability that all soldiers develop to “roll with the punches” is invaluable whether you’re in a trench or on an escalator.’

He also told Quest that, ‘at the most basic level, engineering is engineering and it doesn’t matter whether a nut or bolt has worked loose on a machine gun or an escalator – either way it’s going to cause trouble! So the differences in equipment, locale and paint jobs aside, my core business has not really changed very much. Similarly, I am constantly dealing with people and have to adopt different leadership styles to get the best out of them, exactly as I did when wearing a green baggy skin.’

Indeed, it was even confirmed in recent research published by Virgin Media Business that companies really do prize a ‘can do’ attitude – and that’s one of the very things with which your time in the Forces is likely to have equipped you. The Virgin survey reported that ‘A “can do” attitude as well as soft skills are the most important attributes employers look for when recruiting new workers.’ It also found that a ‘can do’ attitude was considered ‘most important’ for 85% of the businesses that responded, while academic and professional qualifications were cited as ‘most important’ for 27% and 28%, respectively.

True, a determination to succeed is also required, but the good news is that, as Phil highlights, almost everyone in the Armed Forces has the necessary character to achieve whatever they set out to.

However, surprisingly few link this to their inevitable future – working as a civilian. As emphasised above, they have the personal qualities, skills, training, experience, education and opportunities for personal development – however, they also need to make the necessary personal choices and be prepared to carry them out. As Phil’s experience underlines, they need to have confidence in their abilities, and the value of these to future civilian employers – and, despite the findings of the survey reported above, it is still the case that these should, ideally, be enhanced by the addition of well-targeted qualifications that are likely to prove useful and relevant.

Whether we like it or not, and despite what some business surveys may find, qualifications are more important than ever. To get ahead in life, the vast majority of us have to work for qualifications, and work hard. This cannot be achieved overnight – it takes time to build knowledge. Those who do not put in the effort are not going to achieve the results.

Many civilians have just as many distractions, and much less help than their Service counterparts. They generally pay for their own learning, conduct their own research, study in their own time, and have nothing like the same in-house training and facilities as Service people. A very few high fliers may be sent on top-level management courses, but that is about it. Few people in the Forces seem to understand just how fortunate they are in comparison to their contemporaries. So, remember that, although you are highly likely to have the necessary personal and practical skills to succeed in civilian life, at the same time remember too that these are best backed up with relevant and transferable qualifications – you need to give yourself every advantage possible in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

In whatever field you are seeking employment, we hope that Quest can offer you a few tips. This month’s edition takes a look at a number of different career options. Close protection is a popular choice with our readers, while, as noted above, we also cover opportunities in the rail industry. Perhaps some Service leavers are more suited to a future in health and safety than they may realise, and a career in the maritime and marine sector could be a natural progression, particularly for those leaving the Royal Navy. Turning our attention to education, a huge number of qualifications can be gained, at least in part, through distance learning – a method of study that is undeniably useful to Service people, for whom taking courses and gaining qualifications might otherwise prove a difficult proposition. We take a look at what this involves and the benefits it is likely to hold for you. Our final piece – on the electrical and electronic engineering sector – also emphasises that there continue to be opportunities available in every part of the economy for skilled and qualified people.

And don’t forget that in-depth articles on all the career areas covered by Quest during the course of the year are always available on our website: visit www.questonline.co.uk and click on ‘Careers A–Z’ for the full list.

Jobs may be harder to find at present, but many employers are also finding it hard to recruit the right employees. The more you strive to make a good transition and, above all, remember the value and importance of your transferable skills, the more likely you are to set the civilian employment landscape aglow like a firework, rather than languish in job-seeking limbo, failing to set the world alight …(Questonline)

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