Centenary Business Centre is perfect home for British Forces Resettlement Service
A Nuneaton-based social enterprise is smoothing the way for business to benefit from the vast range of skills held by former military personnel.
Last year more than 15,000 people left the armed forces - collectively making a huge array of skills and expertise newly-available to the job market.
But for some ex-members of the forces, despite them being well-equipped to offer much to potential employers, the process of readjusting to civilian life after, in some cases, many years in the military, brings its challenges.
So, British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS), based at the Warwickshire County Council-run Centenary Business Centre in Nuneaton, has been set up to connect ex-military personnel with potential employers - to their mutual benefit.
The social enterprise, which is not-for-profit with all revenues ploughed back into the business, is the brainchild of founder Harry Dean who himself served in the army for 30 years. Originally from Hertfordshire, he was first posted to Gamecock Barracks in Nuneaton in 1968 and has since served his country all over the world, including in Northern Ireland and the Gulf.
So when BFRS' growth demanded bigger premises, he was pleased to find the perfect solution virtually on his doorstep at the Centenary Centre.
"It is a very good base for us," Harry said. "We have 12 staff now so needed somewhere bigger and better-equipped and the Centenary Centre is just the job.
"Lisa Smullen and her team are really helpful and look after us very well and of course Nuneaton is so centrally-located that we have great access to the transport network which is very important as we hold quite a lot of roadshows and exhibit at events around the country.
"Basically we are here to provide an all-embracing, easy-to-access focal point where the Armed Forces Community and the commercial world can engage. Businesses locally have been very receptive to what we do but there is an awful lot more that can be done for the benefit of both the businesses and the ex-military personnel.
"I think there is still a perception in some quarters that people coming out of the military are only qualified to work in security. That's miles from the truth.
"In the forces people are trained to a very high level in all sorts of specialised areas like engineering and I.T. They have loads of transferable skills and also the disciplines that any employer wants from his or her workforce - punctuality, reliability, commitment.
"What they do not have is that background in the wider business world so that's where we come in. We show them the options while also bringing their talents to the attention of the business world."
BFRS services are open to Service Leavers, reserve forces, veterans and civilian MOD employees as well as partners and families - irrespective of for how long or how long ago they served.