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Veterans need to elevate skills to compete in competitive job market

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The inherent talent of Defence Force personnel doesn’t always translate into career opportunities once they leave the service, one ex-army officer has claimed.

Tom Moore, the co-founder and CEO of WithYouWithMe, an emerging business that specialises in helping veterans find employment, has flagged the serious nature of the problems faced by veterans failing to find adequate work after handing in their uniforms.

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In particular, Moore emphasised that a lack of skills to enable them to compete in a contested labour market could be the reason behind the disproportionate scale of the problem.

Moore told Defence Connect that a report his firm released upon first entering the market had revealed some bleak statistics.

According to that study, the total veteran unemployment rate in Australia was 30.2 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 5.9 per cent.

It also found that, on average, veterans face a 30 per cent pay cut when they transition from the military to a civilian role, and that 19 per cent of veterans are underemployed – that is, not working in jobs that match their skills – compared to the national average of 8.5 per cent.

“The quick thing that we found, and to hammer home again, we got out of the military and we thought we were pretty competitive guys and we struggled to get work,” said Moore. “We thought, 'What's going on?'

“If our income support budget for veterans is $6.4 billion for a really low population, what's the issue? When we conducted that three-month study, it was quite alarming. Rather than whinge about it, one of the things that you're taught in the military is to at least fix the problem, and don't let someone else deal with it.”

Moore said that he and his fellow founders simply took that information and built out a plan, based on the notion that, if you have an economic problem that  is that big, it's not just the idea that veterans are viewed as damaged, he said.

“It's that maybe we're just missing a few skills to be competitive,” said Moore. “So, then the premise of our business was to match veterans to the right job and then upskill them for professions, including things like cyber security and robotics process automation.”

In Moore’s own case, his final posting before reluctantly leaving the Army was in terminations.

“I helped the military transition about 420 personnel, and that is a very tough job. It was within my own rehabilitation, so by the end of it I was pretty distraught personally,” he said.

Moore subsequently suffered a phase in 2013-14 during which he said his mental health was significantly poor.

“I ended up leaving the Army that year and tumbled out into industry in about 2015,” he recalled.

Veterans need to elevate skills to compete in competitive job market
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