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Recruiting ex-forces: Is missing out on the skills of veterans costing your business?


From the C-suite to trades roles the Armed Forces community offers a wealth of hard and soft skills sought after by organisations. In a labour market where 80% of UK businesses report difficulties in filling vacancies, businesses that fail to take advantage of this talent pool stand to miss out on the opportunity hidden within this community.

We find employers are not ignorant of the benefits of recruiting ex-forces, a population which increases by over 16,000 people each year. Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen organisations increasingly focus on ex-military talent acquisition, but often they lack the network or expertise to reach, engage and retain this group of workers.

Morson Forces are the Morson Group’s dedicated recruitment arm which has been laser-focused on securing skilled employment for ex-forces personnel for the past 20 years.

Armed Forces Day takes place on the last Saturday of June each year and is a great opportunity to celebrate the community. Our team supports individuals and their partners to transition from ex-forces to civilian life whilst opening doors to the potential of the service leaver community for businesses. Proud holders of the Ministry of Defence Gold Award in the Employer Recognition Scheme since 2017, we have more than 2,500 ex-Royal Navy, Army and RAF individuals working across projects in the UK and overseas.

Almost 13% of our candidate pool is designated as ex-forces.

So why do we invest so significantly in the ex-forces community and what makes this largely untapped talent pool key to helping our clients solve their talent challenges across multiple sectors?

“In the military, if you turn up on time, you’re actually 10 minutes late.” What skills do the ex-forces community offer?

Ex-forces personnel often possess skills that can set them apart from their peers. Soft skills such as organisation, timekeeping and discipline are hard-coded by military experience and culture. In addition, almost all have NVQ or degree accreditations and often have practical experience in subjects like engineering, easily transferrable for similar civilian roles.

We all know that ‘you don’t have to be a pilot to fly in the RAF’, but it goes much further as Jon Moon, veteran, Contracts Manager and Morson Forces team member explains:

The Royal Navy doesn’t just sail ships, the Army doesn’t just fire weapons and the RAF doesn’t just fly planes. They can be surgeons, dentists, cartographers, HR and payroll experts, logisticians, drivers, vehicle mechanics, aircraft engineers, analysts, security, IT, cyberspace communications, radar, telecoms, chefs, aircrew, firefighters, the list goes on…

Leadership, working in safety-critical environments, following instructions (verbal and written) in addition to multi-skilled, professional accreditation and qualifications mean that many forces individuals are extremely attractive candidates. Punctual, with a strong work ethic they can turn their hands to any task.


Most candidates have a minimum of an NVQ level 3 trade qualifications and many with additional professional and personal trade associated with MSc. BSc, MBA and Charter Status.

Many service leavers also come with learning credits which can be used to a future employer’s benefit. The schemes entitle eligible personnel to receive financial assistance towards their learning, promoting life-long development that enables higher level learning of a nationally recognised qualification at Level 3 or above with an approved provider. Information for serving personnel who are looking to claim this can be found here.

With job-ready service people exiting the military each year alongside those aware they will leave within the next 1-3 years, organisations can easily align veteran engagement with their short, medium and long-term talent acquisition strategies.

Barriers that hinder recruiting ex-forces often appear at the first stages of the recruitment process...

Many armed forces have limited knowledge of the working world outside the military bubble. Some ex-services personnel won’t have written a CV or experienced an interview since they joined the armed forces at the age of 16. And challenges such as translating some of the transferable skills they’ve learnt in the armed forces into something that would appeal to an employer are not to be underestimated. Employers must be aware of these challenges if they are to unleash the potential of this community.

The role of our Morson Forces Ambassador, Corporal Andy Reid MBE, is to help veterans overcome these barriers, supporting them to translate their military skills and experience into job-ready ‘civvy’ language.

Army veteran and triple amputee, having been injured by an IED while on a tour of Afghanistan in 2009, Andy is a vital link between service leavers, our recruitment teams, and clients, working together to identify and capitalise on employment/hiring opportunities.

A key part of Andy and the wider Morson Forces team’s community outreach is events. Each year, the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and the British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS) run dozens of events across the country aimed at current and future service leavers. Each event enables networking between potential candidates and employers. For businesses, it’s the perfect opportunity to engage with forces talent and register CVs for future opportunities. Our Morson Forces team attend these events regularly, often in partnership with our clients, helping introduce them to the forces talent pool. With a recruitment team composed of veterans, we provide our clients with unique insight into the ex-forces community and wider talent landscape.

Watch Pat McMullan, Morson Forces Account Manager, at the CTP in Salford:

It’s not just about engagement, it’s about retention. How can employers support recruiting ex-forces personnel and foster a forces-friendly culture?

For veterans to thrive in their new civilian roles, employers must focus on creating an environment of ongoing support and understanding. Our clients who experience the best rates of retention are those who cultivate an internal forces community or support network as well as ongoing investment from a training and development perspective.

Transitioning from military to civilian life is often a significant adjustment. To support, employers could offer:

  • Tailored support programs, such as mentoring initiatives and skills development workshops.
  • Create an internal ex-forces group led by ex-forces candidates with networking opportunities – see Amazon, Barclays, and DHL.
  • Sign the Armed Forces Covenant. With our Gold Award advocacy, we are helping some of our new clients to undertake this.
  • Use awareness days such as Armed Forces Day to educate civilian workers and celebrate military culture, challenges and experiences – training sessions, guest speakers, or internal communications are all great activations.

By demonstrating a commitment to hiring and supporting veterans through small but significant activities employers can send a powerful message to veterans that their organisation values the skills and experiences of ex-military candidates.

What does the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant demonstrate?

Last month, retailer John Lewis became the 10,000th signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant. Signing the Armed Forces Covenant is a clear way for employers to show their commitment to helping service leavers. The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise by the nation ensuring that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

recruiting ex-forces

Morson Forces have been a proud holder of the Ministry of Defence Gold Award, the highest attainable level for signatories to the covenant, since 2017. We’ve also helped several of our clients on their journey through bronze and silver.

Clients we have helped on their Armed Forces Covenant journey whilst recruiting ex-forces include St. Modwen, Brakes, Marshall and Manchester United.

Through Morson Forces, we’ve made a commitment to ensuring that once a service leaver begins a new role – either as a Morson employee, permanent staff or contractor with one of our clients – they have access to the support they require through our expert HR and care support teams.

There is nothing else like Morson Forces on the market, which not only makes us best placed to welcome ex-military people into our Group, but ensures we are able to gain all the necessary knowledge and insight required to give these individuals the best chance at starting the next chapter of their lives.


We’re dedicated to supporting organisations as they explore recruiting ex-forces individuals. Whether you’re looking to fill niche roles in your business, engage the ex-forces community or need guidance with the Armed Forces Covenant, we have you covered.

Contact our Head of Integrated Services, James Millward, at