On Thursday, March 29th 2012, the British Forces Resettlement Services (BFRS) held it’s fifth Military to Civilian Career Transition Event at the Catterick Leisure Centre, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire

The bustling event featured 80 exhibitors include employers, franchise opportunities, training organisations and information centres who welcomed the more than 600 British Armed Forces service leavers looking to take their first steps into life on Civvy Street.

At a workshop on how to craft the perfect CV, hosted by former officer and Forces resettlement expert, Sandy Caple, we met Rob Philpin, who is currently awaiting his date for a medical discharge from the army. Rob explained “With Sandy’s help I have changed around my CV to create a better impression with potential employers.Now I have come to terms with the fact I am leaving the forces I found today’s exhibition highlighted that there are roles for people with my skills and I feel more optimistic about the future”.

BFRS founder Harry Dean says: “The British Armed Forces are some of the best in the world and our Service leavers possess a unique combination of highly developed skills and qualities. However, the actual transition process from military to civilian life can be daunting. We hope our event helped skilled Service leavers like Rob to overcome any reservations and take their first step into a happy and successful resettlement.”

Human Resource representatives from Hilton International, National Grid and Harris Pye shared tips with Service Leavers looking for work at a seminar on ‘What employers are looking for’.The overriding message from the employers session was the key to making a successful transition is to be prepared. This means researching the market and identifying those skills which Service Leavers can apply in Civvy Street. Kathryn Porter, Divisional Resourcing Director of Hilton Worldwide summed up the interview preparation process by explaining ‘facts tell and stories sell’.“In order to demonstrate competencies service leavers need to be able to discuss where they have demonstrated transferable skills.”

Many exhibitors were employers from a wide range of different industries, all delighted with the chance to meet potential new employees. The National Grid, the event’s sponsor, found the event to be a real success. Beth Passey, National Grid HR Manager for Experienced Hires said:“We find such events an invaluable opportunity to chat informally to people about what their options are, and if there’s potentially a future for some of you at National Grid, then that’s a bonus. Ultimately, we attend these events to help people determine the path they take on Civvy Street and if we’ve helped people at Catterick to make choices for their future, then our job is done.”

Wayne Davies, HR Manager at Harris Pye, a global engineering firm, was on the look-out for new talent. “We’re particularly keen to recruit Armed Forces leavers because we appreciate their disciplined attitude to their work and their training. We operate on a global basis and it is imperative that we have the right manpower to successfully undertake projects throughout the world.”

The event also had its share of VIP special guests. These included retired Major General James Short, CB OBE who opened the event, James Ramsbotham of the North East Chamber of Commerce, Nick Millan and Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon. James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive, North East Chamber of Commerce spoke passionately about the breadth of opportunities available to Service leavers in the North East of England to help fill a skills shortage in the manufacturing and engineering industries. “In the past few years export from firms in the North East has grown dramatically and for this to continue local employers require specialist skills, such as those possessed by people coming out of the Forces.”

On the success of the event, BFRS founder Harry Dean says: “Given the event’s resounding success – our biggest to date – we are looking forward to making next year’s even bigger to ensure we can help open doors for more people attempting the career transition from Military to Civilian life.”

About BFRS

BFRS provides help, advice and support to members of the Armed Forces, both past and present, and their families. We do this by fostering links with local communities and securing effective employment opportunities for people leaving the Armed Forces.

BFRS provides online and offline services to offer support to Armed Forces leavers and their families during the transition process and beyond. BFRS is a Community Interest Company, which provides the flexibility and certainty of a company plus some special features to ensure we are working for the benefit of the community.

BFRS works closely with other support organisations. We do this through:

  • Events. In 2012 BFRS is holding 5 events. Details can be found at www.bfrsevents.co.uk.
  • Virtual Event. This is taking place 24/7 and all of our events’ exhibitors have a stand.
  • Online. The www.bfrss.org.uk website has thousands of job vacancies and training courses.