National Service the answer to skill shortages?


An article in yesterdays Daily Telegraphy (www.telegraph.co.uk) by Richard Tyler got me thinking, is bringing back National Service the answer to skill shortages and high unemployment amongst young people, young men in particular?

Compulsory National Service was abolished long before I was born and therefore I cannot speak from experience as to its value.  There were however a number of things in the report that struck me as a possible solution to many of the problems employers and the unemployed are facing.

The article was entitled “Employers Benefit from Afghan Tours”.  In it, Richard Tyler highlighted a recent report from the Ministry of Defence that was endorsed by the Chartered Management Institute.  The report found that reservists “deployed to Afghanistan gain up to £18,432 of relevant civvy street experience”.

Dig deeper and the report evidences “during a typical year, a reservist gained skills from military training that would cost £8,327 for their civilian employers to buy”.  It is estimated that “10% of the experience of deployment in Afghanistan was relevant to employers”.

There has been much talk recently of the challenges facing young men in particular as the largest percentage of the population out of work.  Employers talk regularly of young people leaving education and lacking many of the basic skills employers require.  We have in the region of 270 graduates applying for every graduate training position.  Many will be disappointed yet clearly have much to offer.  Could a stint in the military be the answer?

The purpose of this post is not to debate the rights and wrongs of the war in Afghanistan.  However there is much the military can offer young people in terms of equipping them with the skills they need in the workplace.  Discipline, teamwork, focus, commitment, responsibility, accountability, leadership, structure, application, communication, clarity, purpose.  These are all words we recognise as essential workplace attributes for a succesful career, but in many cases employers evidence that these are not qualities evidenced in abundance from the employees of the future.  Education it would appear in this regard is letting employers down.  Could a stint on the parade ground be the answer?

A quote from Richard Tyler’s article from Corporal Kelvin Roberts, a Reservist who has just completed a tour of Afghanistan and an employee of Bank of America gives further insight in to just what this might mean for employers;

“I feel I really developed as a person in Afghanistan, I gained experience that has definitely helped me since I returned to work”.  “I’ve learnt how to better manage a team and delegate tasks.  I am more confident and have a greater sense of my own leadership abilities”.

Could any employer confidently predict similar feedback and return from a training course, not matter how effective?  Corporal Roberts experience is something that is firmly engrained in him and I have no doubt such experience and qualities will serve him well in his career.  Should employers and governments be looking to the military as a great way of developing skills amongst our young men and women?

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Filed under Careers, Employee Engagement, Hiring, Job Creation, Talent

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