Judy Terry is a marketing professional and a former local councillor in Suffolk.
Despite facing a potential unemployment crisis, with up to 4 million out of a job, especially affecting young people, I haven’t heard a single Minister highlighting the extensive career opportunities across the UK’s Armed Services, which are keen to recruit the best men and women to apprenticeships and officer training.
British Forces are amongst the best in the world, highly respected internationally for their leadership and effectiveness, both in combat and when delivering care and support to populations faced with environmental disasters. They work and train in partnership with other Western forces, including America and Europe, across the world, to protect us – and our interests.
Billions of pounds are invested annually in training and equipment, including new aircraft carriers.
Whatever their rank, Forces members are highly skilled decision-makers, building trust with colleagues, used to taking the initiative as well as responding to emergencies both at home and abroad. Within the last year, for example, the Army was deployed in flood zones around the UK, helping to save communities, built the Nightingale hospitals, and is now assisting at Covid-19 test centres.
The Prime Minister is even considering calling on the Army to assist Police in controlling breaches of pandemic protective measures, although Parliament hasn’t been consulted.
Unfortunately, this year’s annual Remembrance Day events to celebrate our military heroes will be curtailed for obvious reasons, but the minute’s silence will still serve as a reminder of how much we owe to them across the generations.
So, young people with good A levels and degrees could serve their country, saving lives, developing fantastic careers, travelling the world, employing their exceptional skills and knowledge, whilst earning a generous salary, from £15,000 as an apprentice to over £50,000.
According to the various websites (just google the Ministry of Defence), there are over 100 roles: from combat to engineer, medical services: nurses, doctors, dentists, radiographers, as well as IT, with cyber security and intelligence an important growth sector. Divers, dog handlers, police services, linguists, chefs, pilots, musicians, chaplains, deck officers, managers, air traffic controllers, logistics… – the world could literally be your oyster. These are lifetime skills, which can be transferred to other organisations, whether in the public sector or private industry.
Unlike private schools, there is a general reluctance in state schools to encourage careers in the Services, which inevitably impacts on diversity ambitions. Given the unemployment crisis, now is the time for local authorities to organise more structured career guidance, using films to illustrate the range of opportunities available, and zoom sessions with members of the Services, representing all ranks and specialisms.
The Government has also launched its campaign to recruit 20,000 new police officers, and has committed to expanding green energy and wind farms, but too few young people are aware of how to apply, or what qualifications are needed. There are some fantastic opportunities, with tailored training available; West Suffolk College is an example of how courses are being adapted for new recruits, as well as older people looking to retrain. Local authorities just need to rise to the challenge and communicate.