On Friday the 21st of June, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) partnered up with X-Forces Enterprise to host an event promoting the benefits of employing former military personnel. At the Royal Wells Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, the event marked the run-up to Armed Forces Day by inviting small business owners, managers and Armed Forces personnel to the event, with guests ranging from local councillors and self-employed workers to former Service members and active reservists.

Guests were able to hear talks and take part in Q&A sessions with Tonbridge MP and veteran Tom Tugendhat, X-Forces Enterprise founder Ren Kapur MBE, the Ministry of Defence’s Kate Lole, Me:Now founder Barry Thompson, Lisa Marr from the Veterans Employment Transitions Support social enterprise and RIFT’s own Shaun Micallef-Green.

With around 30 representatives from Kent-based businesses, the event was extremely active and lively. There are real benefits on offer to companies who reach out to the military community, and this event was a significant step toward getting that message across. The skill sets and personal qualities an Armed Forces career provides are directly transferrable to so many sectors outside the MOD, and it was incredibly encouraging to see local business representatives actively looking into ways of supporting and engaging with former military personnel. Those businesses that do connect with military candidates are seeing real, measurable benefits, too – finding creative solutions to tough problems, boosting team performance and closing vital skills gaps.

FSB research shows that over 1 in 10 of the UK’s small businesses has employed a Service leaver over the last 3 years. The manufacturing industry is particularly well represented in the figures, with 20% of firms taking advantage of the former military talent pool. The full range of businesses reaching out to MOD personnel is broader than many would expect, from wholesale, retail and repair through to complex scientific and technical fields.

While there’s still a strange cultural resistance in some areas against employing former Armed Forces personnel, events like these are a great way of opening doors and getting the business and military communities together. Candidates with military backgrounds adapt quickly to leadership roles, cope expertly with fast-changing environments and don’t crack under deadline pressure. The more businesses wake up to the incredible talent pool on offer, the better they’ll be able to make the most of it. As a proud supporter of the Armed Forces Covenant and an expert in helping small businesses thrive, RIFT was delighted to roll up its sleeves and get involved.

If you want to learn more about how to get involved with the Armed Forces Covenant visit their website.