Employment (Service Leavers): 4th November 2013

Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD)
6. What steps he is taking to improve the employment prospects of service leavers. [900858]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Anna Soubry)
We attach great importance to assisting service leavers in making a successful transition from service life into civilian employment. A recent defence statistics study shows that about 85% of the service leavers in 2011-12 who have a known employment outcome are employed within six months of leaving the armed forces. But we are not complacent, and we continue to review whether there are areas we should improve. Indeed, Lord Ashcroft, the Prime Minister’s special representative on veterans’ transition, is leading a review of the provisions that are in place.

Duncan Hames
I am very glad to hear that. Service leavers undoubtedly have much to offer employers. Wiltshire has more than 15,000 military personnel and the number is rising. Will the Minister look favourably on Swindon and Wiltshire local enterprise partnership’s city deal bid, which will help service leavers to gain the qualifications they need and ensure that they are not disadvantaged compared with the civilian population in seeking work?
 
Anna Soubry
Absolutely, and I am more than happy to congratulate my hon. Friend and all others who champion such schemes. This is another reason why we attach so much importance to the corporate covenant, of which I wish to give one quick example. National Express has signed up to the corporate covenant—we urge many other companies, of whatever size, to do so —and will guarantee anyone leaving our armed forces an automatic interview for any job vacancy. That is a good example of why the corporate covenant is to be welcomed.
 
Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
The Minister knows that these servicemen and women make very good teachers and very good professionals in almost any sector. What has happened to the scheme to get them into the classroom, and could we use them more in leading apprenticeship programmes?
 
Anna Soubry
I do not know of any problems in that regard. I am more than happy to make further inquiry and update the hon. Gentleman by way of a letter, but my understanding is that this goes from strength to strength.