A force to be reckoned with
The UK's Armed Forces are one of the country's biggest employers, with over 200,000 people working in a huge variety of roles with the navy, air force and army. Through this work, they earn a wealth of skills and experience that are extremely valuable in civilian roles. And as a business, we recognise not only everything that veterans can bring, but also that it can be tricky to transition out of the services.
That's why we created the Armed Forces Pathway, which focuses on attracting service leavers, veterans, reservists and military spouses and partners to a career within British Gas and Centrica. In fact, we have set an ambitious goal of hiring 500 people from the Armed Forces Community by the end of 2023. “We want to support the Armed Forces community and help them to articulate their skills and expertise to be successful at interview,” explains Laura Blair, Head of the Armed Service Pathway.
Why ex-services personnel appeal to us…
“Regardless of rank – people who have been in the armed forces have incredible transferable skills, including teamwork, attention to detail, leadership, commitment, and an ability to think outside the box to name but a few,” says Laura. “All of this and more makes them attractive to employers.”
Laura herself spent 12 years in the Army, in roles that were mostly personnel focused. She was born and brought up in Northern Ireland, and after graduating from the University of Belfast she decided she wanted to travel the world and do something different. And travel the world she did, from Germany to Bosnia, Iraq to Afghanistan.
“I completed my officer training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in 2000, where they focus on leadership, giving you the tools to motivate, develop and inspire people and teams. My roles were mostly personnel focused. I worked with the Engineers, Army Air Corps, Cavalry, Army Recruiting, then had a brilliant, rewarding last posting with 16 Air Assault Brigade when they become the UK’s high readiness Airborne Taskforce.”
…and how we’re creating an appealing environment for them
We want to be a welcoming workspace for people connected with the military and have created a focused package of support developed by our Ex-Forces community. As well as a job security, a competitive salary and a wide range of benefits, anyone joining the company through the Armed Forces Pathway will also get a dedicated Ex-Forces ‘Oppo’ when they start to help guide and mentor them.
We have also created the Forces Network, one of 13 employee groups to represent different minority communities within the business. “Leaving the forces can be a disorientating and emotionally challenging time,” says Mark Shakespeare, Chair of the Forces Network. “Our network aims to make the transition to civvy street as comfortable as possible, providing support and mentorship along the way.”
The network is open to all colleagues, whether they have served in the Armed Forces or not. It’s for serving reservists as well as anyone else interested in being part of a community that supports these groups of colleagues. The network has three key objectives:
- Create a diverse community that supports veterans and reservists within Centrica
- Work towards the Gold MOD Employer Recognition Scheme
- Support Centrica in becoming the employer of choice for veterans and reservists
The Armed Forces Pathway also supports our wider diversity and inclusion ambitions, particularly to attract more women into technical roles. To help us do that, we secured the headline sponsorship of the Women into Employment 2023 organised by the Forces Employment Charity.
Opportunities for everyone
We offer a variety of roles and work closely with the Career Transition Team to help service leavers find the right one for them, be it a junior or senior one. Our award-winning apprenticeships are open to everyone and are a great way to earn while you learn.
Experienced veterans and reservists will have transferable skills suited to our vacancies, whether they have commercial experience or not. And we value the vast and varied skill set across the Military Spouse and Partner Community who will also find suitable roles with us. This year, we’re also trialling our first 6-month paid Military Leadership Placement for service leavers who have at least four years of demonstrable leadership experience.
From service to Centrica
“I joined the Army at 16, straight from school and spent the next 23 years of serving with The King’s Royal Hussars, a heavy armoured cavalry regiment. I was operating tanks well before I even got my driving licence! My first posting was to Germany where I spent nine years, and my tours include Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. I was also fortunate enough to take part in training in Canada and Kenya.
I joined Centrica in December 2014 as trainee White Goods Engineer and am now a Technical Support Engineer for British Gas, supporting the field engineers. There is honestly so much to like about working here, not least the benefits package that includes a generous pension, smart pay and medical cover. As an individual you are encouraged to bring the whole of you to work and I have honestly found something that I enjoy doing. I feel well supported and I am encouraged to flourish in my role. I can see myself enjoying a full second career here right through to retirement, and there are plenty of opportunities to progress.
The values of the company are closely aligned to what I was already used to in the Forces. The excellent Ex-Forces community can be relied upon for advice. Centrica recognises the skills that are prominent in the Armed Forces community and is fully committed to being Forces friendly with the Pathway scheme.”