The highways maintenance sector is the perfect match for ex-serviceman and women looking for a promising new career, requiring a variety of different skill sets to match a rapidly changing industry.

One of the UK’s leading highways maintenance contractors, WJ Group, is benefiting from the extensive military training program, afforded to all servicemen and women.

The military training received by service personnel has been providing the highways industry with the ideal skills and culture required to be successful in a demanding, safety conscious and efficiency driven contracting environment, which necessitates collaboration and team-working.

Military roles are often ‘hands-on’, operating in challenging, high-pressured situations that demand leadership and project management skills. When you consider that its exactly these skills which are in great demand within the highway maintenance sector, it suggests a perfect match for many ex-servicemen and women, who often struggle to find suitable employment when they leave the forces.

The highways maintenance contracting environment is in many ways like service life. At WJ its already proving to be a satisfying new career option for sixteen ex forces employees, all enjoying security of employment, flexibility, teamwork, comradeship and good financial rewards.

The award winning company is the UK’s leading specialist road marking contractor, providing vitally important delineation that make travelling on the road network a better and safer driving experience for all road users. In addition to applying road markings, WJ also produce road marking materials from two state of the art manufacturing plants and at their engineering division, design and build road marking trucks. They operate nationally from regional depots with employees carrying out varied activity, expanding the career path opportunities available.

Ex Royal Corp of Transport, Lance Corporal and Air Despatcher Garry Duncan (Pictured Centre) has worked his way up and is now a WJ Group Board Director. Garry is the Director of the WJ Products business running two manufacturing plants in the UK and supporting a joint venture business in Belgium.

Garry commented “The skills I learnt in the army have been put to good use in this very challenging operational role. The support network within the WJ Group is also similar to that of the army. The opportunity, teamwork, camaraderie, self-belonging and support are great as well as financial reward.”

Every year, around 15,000 military personnel leave the forces and the qualities of ex service personnel have inspired WJ Group to proactively set about attracting more to support the growth and sustainability objectives of the business.

Paul Aldridge WJ Group Sustainability Director commented “Creating a culture of fairness, inclusion and respect enables our people to do the best job they can. That, in turn, creates job satisfaction, boosts productivity and benefits the business bottom line. Ex-service men and women bring an extra dimension to our operation and are helping us to embed the right culture”.

The need to proactively recruit from this skills pool is even more compelling when you consider that, according to the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report (2019-2023), 168,500 new construction jobs will be created to keep pace with industry demand.

Whilst the logic is irrefutable, comparatively few military personnel have been making the transition to a construction career. WJ believe that one of the main reasons is that not enough is being done to make ex-servicemen and woman aware of the opportunities available.

The fact is that there could not be a more exciting time to join the highways sector as it is on the verge of a transport revolution with the development of connected and autonomous vehicles. The infrastructure investment, innovations and new technologies needed will create an even greater demand for human resources together with new thinking and a variety of skills. The road marking sector is preparing to play an important part and career paths will open for those that demonstrate a desire to commit, learn and take an active role in the UK’s future transport success.

Whatever the level, ex-servicemen and women can benefit from their previous training and experience. When supplemented with specific highways industry training and aligned to a clearly defined career path with advancement opportunities, the highways maintenance sector appears to be a real option.

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