Armed Forces personnel facing redundancy can call on the services of a new specialised employment agency after a successful launch at MediaCityUK today.
Forces Direct is the idea of veterans Paul Doyle and Aaron Chase and regional politicians and businesses were on hand to support the new venture.
The Lord Mayor of Salford, Cllr Eric Burgoyne performed the official cake cutting and gave a short speech to celebrate the firm’s opening.
He said: “I think this is a brilliant idea. We have people coming out of the Forces in the next few months who do not want to come out of the forces.
“If you’ve been a soldier for 20 years it can be a big shock coming back to civvy street.”
Ministry of Defence budget cuts have earmarked 25,000 front line positions are to be axed by 2015, with a further 29,000 jobs going in civilian roles throughout the forces.
Paul Doyle – who toured Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia amongst others in two spells as a Grenadier Guard believes ex Forces personnel have attributes suited to employment in many sectors.
“Leadership, integrity, reliability, loyalty, self-discipline and initiative, surely these are all the key skills required by businesses right now?” he said.
Ex-Army signaller Scott Hunter left the Army in August last year.
He said: “I have worked hard to get a job but found it difficult. Forces Direct make it easier because they’ve got direct links to jobs.”
He added that even though not every serviceperson would be forced to take redundancy, due to pay freezes and rising living costs, many would struggle to continue in the Forces in any case.
We spoke to two Salford born Grenadier Guards with nearly 18 years’ service between them, who did not want to be named. They have been given the option of voluntary redundancy.
They said: “It came out of the blue really, we didn’t really expect it.”
“I suppose it’s better for people to be given the option – they will be able to prepare and make decisions for the fare.”
“With more cuts coming in the next couple of years, it’s definitely the right time to be launching a company like this.”
Both men have already started thinking ahead, with jobs in driving appealing to them and the prospect of starting their own business.
Support Our Soldiers co-founder Agnes Hunter meanwhile questioned the logic of spending money making the forces highly trained and then making them redundant.
Lamin Deen is a fellow Grenadier Guard who has benefitted from sponsorship coming through links of Doyle, who he served with for his involvement in the self-funded Team GB bobsleigh team.
He said: “I have no doubt they will be flooded with requests for help with redundancies coming left, right and centre.”
“Word of mouth recommendation is very strong in the military – service people here today will be able to spread the word when they return to their bases.”
Every year, around 20,000 service men and women leave the forces, and it is estimated that currently that are approximately 50,000 veterans out of work – many of them for more than 18 months or more.
You can find more information on Forces Direct by visiting their website, www.forces-direct.co.uk