Ahead of Armed Forces Day, Andrew Johnson discusses his experience in the British Armed Forces and the importance of the Armed Forces Covenant.
The approach of Armed Forces Day each year always triggers thoughts and reflections of my time in the Army and my professional journey since.
As many know, the transition from military to civilian life can be daunting and uncertain, particularly when seeking to establish a new career in a very different industry. Yet as many more will understand, the skills, experiences, values and behaviours of veterans are highly transferable. Construction, for example, offers a broad range of opportunities from the established trades to professional consultants, health and safety, and management roles all set against an increasing focus on research and development and the use of technology to improve quality and efficiency across the sector.
Simultaneously, four years after Grenfell we are finally beginning to see new, associated, legislation taking shape to address safety concerns. The Building Safety Bill which introduces a new regulatory regime overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as well as the new Fire Safety Act and a more rigorous gateway process to manage and evidence fire safety considerations in design and construction are on the way. The creation of the Building Safety Regulator (BSR), a new regulatory body within the HSE to oversee the safe design, construction, and occupation of buildings, further emphasises the importance of integrated health and safety thinking and best practice. The broadened definition of competence to include behaviours is very deliberate and we don’t need to look far for good examples. Moral courage, integrity, selflessness and respect for others are embedded in our service men and women precisely to foster the right behaviours – framing how individuals come together as a team to achieve common, valued outcomes. Consequently there is real opportunity here for service leavers.
Many veterans have made the journey into the health and safety profession, gaining qualifications such as NEBOSH along the way, and many more will follow. Managing risk is what the armed forces do. They understand danger and how to deal with it without compromising performance. Yet, in a recent report on the employment of veterans by Deloitte, far too many businesses rule out recruiting someone if they have no industry specific experience meaning more than half of the 700,000 veterans currently in employment find themselves in low skilled, routine or low paid jobs. Perhaps a greater focus on lived experience as part of the diversity and inclusion agenda, together with the efforts of veterans to upskill, will help. But all employers have a role to play.
Veterans are unique – good leadership, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication are clearly valued in all walks of life but are high demand in construction health and safety.
If you are interested in more information about a health and safety role as Principal Designer please get in touch.
David Stabler explains why the Armed Forces Covenant is now an important part of the practice’s Giving campaign.
Michael Anderson discusses his experience in the armed forces and the importance of the Armed Forces Covenant.