I was at a meeting at the CBI last week, initiated by the Chairman of The National Employer Advisory Board to the MOD. The meeting included representatives from some of the UK’s largest employers – BAe Systems, Carrilion, Rolls Royce and Serco among others. The particular issue being looked at was how the MOD could best work with large employers to attract sufficient numbers of new graduates to become young officers. This was one of the ideas contained in the recently published Reserve Forces Review 2020.
What was clear from the discussion was that in this era of economic downturn the MOD can no longer rely on the unconditional support of employers to meet its ambitious targets for the future of the Reserve Forces. In the past, the sustained support of employers in releasing over 24,000 Reservists since 2003 for full time service primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan has been remarkable, but largely been achieved on Defence’s terms. However the world of business has changed since 2008, UK business can no longer afford to sustain a benevolent relationship with Defence; the bottom line and head count are now the key drivers for business. Large employers are prepared, however, to discuss how they might work in partnership with the MOD to mutual benefit.
Defence needs to better understand the world from the employers’ end of the telescope, particularly their HR practices and structures, so that they can develop tailored solutions which will provide that mutual benefit. That is why SaBRE is currently embarking on a significant piece of research with employers to provide Defence with some of this understanding. The research will take place over the next couple of months and I’m looking forward to sharing the findings with you in future blogs.