Key in the ignition for veteran’s scheme
Justin O' Kane from Salford (right) received tailored interview training by National Express
An MP has welcomed a new initiative to support local veterans who have been injured in service which was launched in Manchester by National Express.
As part of its ‘Military Promise’ - an industry-leading commitment to support people who have served in the Armed Forces - the UK’s largest coach operator has unveiled an association with The Poppy Factory.
As part of its work with the charity, which produces millions of Remembrance poppies every year, National Express is supporting Poppy Factory ‘clients’ with job interview training sessions and paid work placements, including at Chorlton Street-based Manchester Coach Station.
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central has welcomed the national scheme, which will help local veterans as well as across the UK.
The initiative, which is designed to help service leavers find paid employment after leaving the Armed Forces, was launched as veterans, including Justin O' Kane from Salford, received tailored interview training by National Express at the British Legion’s ‘Pop In’ centre on Princess Street.
Often veterans, some of whom may never have had a job interview prior to signing up, find the transition to civilian life challenging and the National Express scheme is designed to demystify the interview process and give people practical support around CV building as well as work experience.
Dad-of-one Justin, who is aged 38, and was recently forced to leave the army where he served as a Lance Corporal, following a knee injury, explains the challenges. Justin served all over the world, including in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said: "I always wanted to be in the army and signed on at 17 so I'd never had a job interview before. It can be really daunting looking for work which is why it is really important that veterans get the support they need and it's great National Express has launched this scheme - more companies should do the same. When you are in the Armed Forces, you learn a huge range of skills that are hugely transferable to the civilian world of work - you have to work under pressure and be immaculately turned out at all times. You also have to communicate with people at all levels - be it a village elder, civilian or fellow squaddie and these sort of skills are really valuable. Learning about how to put a CV together and how to interview for a civilian job has been really useful and I think the beauty of this scheme is that it benefits the veterans taking part and also the company."
The scheme is part of a wider package of benefits, including guaranteed job interviews to service leavers, offered by National Express as part of its ‘Military Promise’ to honour the commitment it made when it was handpicked by the government as the first company to sign its Corporate Covenant.
Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central said: "It’s fantastic to see a big business such as National Express really giving back to the communities in which it serves and leading the way to support disabled veterans get onto the career ladder in their new civilian lives. Changing careers is often difficult and disabled veterans in particular face unique challenges but with the launch of innovative schemes such as this the transitionary road to civilian life becomes that much smoother.”
Melanie Waters, Poppy Factory Chief Executive added: “No disabled veteran who wants to work should be out of work. We’re really grateful for the support of businesses such as National Express who enable us to support veterans in finding sustainable and rewarding employment.”
Roz Golds, National Express Military Promise Lead said: “National Express was the first company selected to sign the Government’s Corporate Covenant, a commitment to support the Armed Forces and service leavers and we take our responsibility very seriously. We’re really pleased therefore to unveil our relationship with The Poppy Factory, which will support veterans in Manchester and across the UK and we look forward continuing to helping people find their footing on the career ladder after leaving service.”