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FEATURE: TNB talks to armed forces charity on the frontline of the fight against the driver shortage

29 January 2020 #CV Sector #Features & Interviews #Logistics #News #TNB News

The Logistics Skills Report published by the FTA in October found the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK had climbed to 59,000 and that 64% of transport and storage businesses now face severe skills shortages.

But with the situation reaching such critical levels, could it be that a vast pool of potential talent is still going largely untapped?

This week, TNB caught up with James Cameron, CEO of Mission Motorsport and Mission Automotive, to find how former forces personnel could lead the charge against the skills shortage.

Tell us a little bit about Mission Automotive. What’s its aim?

Mission Automotive is the Armed Forces engagement initiative for the UK automotive industry, launched in March 2019 together with the SMMT and in partnership with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Ministry of Defence. It helps companies to access and retain ex-forces talent and delivers sustainable and relevant employment opportunities for service leavers, veterans and their spouses.

Why is an organisation like Mission Automotive needed?

Around 14,500 service personnel leave the military every year and the skill sets that they have mean that’s an incredible pool of talent.

However, it’s safe to say that a lot of HR processes aren’t ideal for those who’ve served in the forces.

We want to give companies the HR tools they need to be able to attract and make proper judgements about the quality of people they employ.

Mission Automotive can help companies understand how to work the levers so they start seeing people who otherwise they wouldn’t and to phrase their adverts in the right way so it’s going to bring people to the gate and then having the right mechanisms to assess quality will help them to make good decisions.

And from good decisions come good employees.

What are the challenges?

Things are just done differently in the military.

For example, lots of former service personnel have never had an interview before and they’ve certainly never had to write a CV.

You very often find, in fact, that the concept of trying to sell one’s self is very alien as they are so used to talking in terms of ‘we’ and ‘the team’, rather than ‘I’ and ‘myself’.

How well do military personnel adapt to the civilian workplace?

This is a generalisation, but military recruits don’t tend to have the same motivations as civilian hirings.

They don’t tend to work to a clock in the same way as they’re more focused on getting the job done than what it says in their contract. In fact, they’re not used to having a contract.

They also tend to be very loyal and many are looking for meaning and that next cap badge.

When you’re in the military, unless you’re on operations, you’re training. So there’s an attitude of continuous learning and improvement.

That means that former service recruits will very often be more interested in developing their careers with the same employer, rather than looking to walk across an industrial estate for an extra 50p and hour.

What about the types of people and skills available?

Iraq and Afghanistan gave us a big change in some of the civilian qualifications that people in the military are leaving with. So, it’s wrong to look just within the logistical banded regiments for logistics expertise.

A tank regiment, for example, has a huge amount of its own logistics built-in to be able to make frontline operations work.

So, while the Royal Logistics Corps obviously has a lot of truck drivers and things like that, you find that licence-holdng, logistics skills andfleet management exist in every corner of the military.

What about drivers in particular?

The other bit that’s really changed is that a lot of the vehicles that came in for Iraq and Afghanistan were heavier and so people are leaving with C Licences and experience of driving heavier vehicles.

The thing that universally they will lack is their CPC qualification and the tachograph because that’s not required by the military. Some people might see that as an obstacle to progress but any company that offers free CPC training to service leavers can also cherry-pick those people that come through.

How do people find out more?

Just visit our website – drop us an email or give us a call.

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