The CLA recognises that those leaving the armed forces can play a vital role in revitalising the rural economy in England and Wales. Many military veterans possess unique skills that can prove extremely valuable to rural employers. For example, logistic skills in terms of supply chain management, leadership skills for the development of new business ventures and mechanical skills, which can be directly used on the farm.
But there is a gap in knowing how these different skill sets can be best used by rural businesses. Given the present labour supply problems many CLA member businesses are experiencing, it is becoming increasingly important that CLA members are aware of the advantages of taping into the veterans' labour pool.
The CLA has developed the Veterans Initiative, which aims to increase knowledge and awareness of this group of people and provide a structure that benefits rural businesses and the military veterans' community.
The CLA recognises the importance of veterans as an available labour pool, but there needs to be better links between veterans and employers. Through this initiative, the CLA will act as a co-ordinator between the two, and we can establish better contacts with national and regional support networks. There is already a high level of enthusiasm for the CLA to take a more proactive role. Many of the local support groups are small and fragmented; by co-ordinating activity within a framework of common goals, the CLA will promote a genuine dialogue with veterans’ groups across England and Wales as well as support the veterans community.
The Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant is the mechanism through which the CLA makes several pledges to deliver our objectives in supporting our members and veterans. We are committing ourselves to deliver three pledges:
- Encouraging CLA members, as employers, to consider employing veterans of the Armed Forces;
- Disseminating information to CLA members that increases knowledge and leads to a more inclusive relationship with the military community;
- Linking up with existing national and regional networks that currently support veterans to improve the mental and physical well-being of veterans after they leave the armed forces.
Supporting veterans groups
There are many veterans groups in England and Wales that support those leaving the armed forces. These groups are invaluable in acting as liaison points with the military and ensuring that veterans receive the support they deserve.
We will support these groups going forward through regular dialogue. The CLA can gain a far greater awareness of the challenges that veterans face and by working with these support groups, the CLA itself and CLA members can help the veterans community. Conversely, these veterans support groups can gain a better understanding of the rural economy and help us make the “best fit” between CLA members as employers and ex-military personnel.
Creating Veterans Champions
The CLA wants to ensure that our approach to veterans is as wide as possible to allow those members, who are veterans in their own right or simply want to help, to be able to do so.
By creating CLA “Veterans Champions” and putting in place a network at a regional and national level we will widen our communications with the armed forces at a government level through the Ministry of Defence and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the Cabinet Office.
But we can do more. CLA Veteran’s Champions will bring the message to all regions of England and Wales by promoting the benefits of employing veterans to CLA members and the wider rural economy.
We can also learn from those CLA members who are also military veterans. Through CLA Veteran Champions, we will be able to reach those veterans who have a direct or indirect relationship with the countryside.
Building greater awareness for rural business
There is a limited understanding and awareness of the role of the rural economy and its communities in the armed forces. Despite the importance of food security and the maintenance of the environment for the benefit of all, there is a gap in a basic understanding of why “rural” is integral to the success of the country.
We want to ensure that there is more available information that can be given to those leaving the armed forces so that they understand the benefits that rural Britain can bestow.
And it works both ways: many of the skills gained by veterans can be put to use in a rural environment. From leadership to logistics, mechanics to engineering, digital technology to mapping, CLA members can learn from the experiences and expertise of veterans. To do this, over the next few months, we will be highlighting how these skills can really benefit rural business. Employing veterans is a direct way to reduce the rural skills gap.
The CLA is at the start of making the necessary connections to bring veterans and rural employers together. By making the right connections, the veterans initiative can make a real difference in how the rural economy is perceived, help with the labour shortage so acutely felt by CLA members and create new relationships with veterans support groups.
Over the next few months, we will:
- Sign the Armed Forces Covenant and delivering on our three pledges;
- Keeping members up to date with information and developments about the initiative through this online hub;
- Continuing to meet veterans support groups and helping them in their vital work;
- Highlighting the benefits that veterans can make to members’ businesses through regular articles in Land & Business, blogs, and through this hub.
What can CLA members do to help?
Members can keep up to date by regularly visiting the Veterans hub for developments.
If you would like to become directly involved, please contact your regional CLA member of staff:
- Charles Trotman, London and the South East (email@example.com)
- Sarah Fern, South West (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Chris Farr, South West (email@example.com)
- Andrew Marriott, East (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- John Greenshields, Midlands (email@example.com)
- Charles de Winton, Wales (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Kate Bankier, North (email@example.com)