Friday, 7 June 2013

"That sort of thing"

Yesterday, I attended the monthly meeting of The Liquid List (The List UK) in London. The guest speaker this time was Major General James Rupert Everard CBE, the current Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. He spoke about transferable skills of service leavers.

Now, he didn't say anything with which I would disagree; but it was a strangely detached speech.

     Service leavers have a range of transferable skills.
     We all know what those are.
     They are generally appreciated by employers.
     All you have to do is identify and describe them.
     Good luck with it.

I'm over-simplifying, of course. However, several times during his short speech, he used the expression "that sort of thing" - when referring to CV writing, preparing for interviews, planning a new career. As if all that was something dirty with which he didn't really want to be associated.

Not for the first time it dawned on me:
In the not too distant future, he will be one of "them" - a service leaver. He might not be made redundant, but he might still not feel ready for "retirement", for doing nothing. Like all the others, he will have to deal with "that sort of thing". And he won't be any better prepared than any of them.

Initially, I was disappointed with the speech. Now I think I understand. I have spoken with so many service leavers - Private, Naval Commander, Lieutenant Colonel, Brigadier - initially, "that sort of thing" is alien to all of them. Fortunately, they all have the skills to master this challenge eventually - it just takes a bit of time and determination ... and a little bit of competent, coordinated and compassionate help.

The MOD is a long way from embracing the challenge that a career in the Military is no longer "for life" - for anybody. (I know, for many that has never been the case.) New recruits are joining every day - but, quite likely, they will be no better prepared for "that sort of thing" when their time comes.

Maybe, just maybe, the Veterans' Transition Review will make a difference - but that remains to be seen.

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