Businesses discuss what it means to be Armed Forces friendly at Doncaster Chamber event

A group of Doncaster businesses — ranging from anchor employers to enterprising SMEs — came together this week to discuss what it means to be Armed Forces Friendly, at a roundtable event that was organised by the local Chamber of Commerce.
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At this session, delegates explored what kind of career guidance is currently offered to veterans in the region, what more businesses could be doing to support them as they make a transition into civilian life, and the skills that reservists and cadets often bring to the workforce as well.

To help those who were in attendance navigate the various nuances and complexities of these issues, the event also featured representation from the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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What followed was an in-depth and enlightening conversation that generated many exciting ideas.

James Allen and Dan Fell at the roundtable event.James Allen and Dan Fell at the roundtable event.
James Allen and Dan Fell at the roundtable event.

Reflecting on the outcomes of this, Dan Fell, Chief Exec of Doncaster Chamber, said: “For us as an organisation, this is a very pertinent topic as the labour market remains extremely tight and businesses are exploring new ways of accessing the talent that they need to grow and thrive.

“The extensive research that was conducted for our Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) revealed that we have a very progressive and open-minded business community here in South Yorkshire. Employers are receptive to talent coming from anywhere, whether that be in the form of apprentices, ex-offenders or, of course, our Armed Forces community.

“In fact, one of the practical recommendations from that LSIP is about how we can reach the latter group by improving the pathways available to veterans and reservists, many of whom we know are well positioned to meet the needs of local businesses.

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"The Armed Forces community certainly has a lot to offer with their transferable skills, strong sense of discipline and incredible work ethic, and we must ensure that these are being properly harnessed. Given the amount of money that many organisations in our region spend on skills each year, I believe a disproportionately low amount goes towards connecting veterans with employers and maximising their talents.

“With that said, we are keen to really get under the bonnet of this and help drive forward progress wherever we can.

"As a Chamber, we are ourselves signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, and recently attained Silver Status under the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

“Most importantly of all, we are keen to ensure that our members can access the untapped talent of the Armed Forces community, which is why today’s roundtable was so useful. We covered a lot of ground at the event, including: how employers can identify relevant experiences that veterans might be able to translate into the world of work; the ways in which recruitment processes can be streamlined; and what steps need to be taken in the future.”

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Pauline King, Regional Employer Engagement Director for the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Thank you to Doncaster Chamber for organising an insightful and thought-provoking roundtable discussion with a selection of local forces-friendly employers.

"The positive ideas brought to the table will hopefully enable a more creative and practical approach to recruiting from the pool of talent that is the Armed Forces community.”

Roundtable sessions of this calibre are regularly organised by Doncaster Chamber, with each one exploring a different theme. Previous iterations have covered diverse topics like how we can promote Doncaster to the outside world and planning.

There are also special roundtables in which businesses have a chance to engage with their respective Members of Parliament and hash out the pressing issues of the day. The next of these will be held on the 10th of November with Nick Fletcher, MP for Don Valley.

To see the rest of the Chamber’s events calendar, click here.