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Leonardo UK and AtkinsRéalis hire military veterans in bid to bridge digital skills gap

15,000 Futures, an initiative from social impact firm WithYouWithMe, has supported more than 130 veterans and their family members through training and into critical digital roles.

London – 14th March 2024: Two major UK employers have become the latest organisations to help armed forces veterans and their families find meaningful civilian employment in sought after digital roles. 

Aerospace, defence and security firm Leonardo UK, and engineering company AtkinsRéalis, are amongst the latest UK firms to commit to filling a proportion of their digital vacancies with former servicemen and women and their families through 15,000 Futures, a veteran hiring initiative developed by WithYouWithMe.

Dean Fortt, Head of HR – Cyber and Security Solutions, at Leonardo, commented: 

“Leonardo has signed up to the 15,000 Futures initiative to fill critical resource gaps in a way that links to our talent attraction, personnel development, inclusion and social value objectives. We recognise the aptitude and transferrable skills of those who have served in our armed forces and how these skills can be used to make meaningful and significant contributions towards key customer projects and programmes. 

“Our WithYouWithMe veterans also have first-hand experience of the environments where many of our products and services are used, and their fantastic insights have nurtured the development of this capability. As there is a severe lack of cyber resource available in the labour market, companies need to look at alternative talent pools to fill critical roles. WithYouWithMe’s 15,000 Futures campaign is a great example of an alternative approach in action, providing meaningful employment to veterans whilst also providing industry with talented candidates with huge potential.”

Each year, 15,000 people leave the UK military and return to civilian life but many struggle to find meaningful employment. Meanwhile, nationwide, organisations are facing growing digital skills gaps that veterans and their families can be rapidly trained to fill.

15,000 Futures was started by WithYouWithMe, a social impact firm which supports armed forces veterans and their partners, as well as other marginalised sections of society including neurodivergent individuals, by delivering innovative aptitude testing and digital skills training for high-demand tech careers. The initiative was launched in 2022 shortly after WithYouWithMe signed the Armed Forces Covenant, and garnered early support from leading organisations including Northrop Grumman, Capita plc, Atos, Fujitsu, Leidos, and SII UK.

Sophie Ball, Head of Talent at Northrop Grumman, said:

“At Northrop Grumman, we believe that every single person has the potential to change the future and as a technology company, we need talent from many disciplines and diverse backgrounds to create some of the most technically sophisticated products and services in the world.Working closely with organisations like WithYouWithMe complements our recruitment pipeline as we continually look to add to our highly engaged and committed workforce.”

WithYouWithMe’s CEO, Tom Larter, a former Australian Army Captain, has been in London this week for the annual 15,000 Futures private reception, which featured a keynote address from Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, the Rt. Hon. Johnny Mercer. The reception saw leaders from government and industry unite to foster discussions and meaningful progress around veteran hiring programmes. 

Speaking at the event, Mr Larter said:

“15,000 Futures has already had a significant positive impact on veterans, their families, and the businesses who are training and hiring them to fill critical skills gaps. However, there is always more work to be done. To create real change, more organisations must be considering the untapped value of the veteran talent pool and utilising objective means of assessing the underlying abilities of veteran applicants, not simply asking for their resume. Instead, organisations should focus on unlocking the well-known defining traits of veterans; for example the ability to quickly learn new skills and adapt. This is a critical trait for building a culture of continuous learning in today’s corporate world, and veterans have this in spades.”

In the past year, WithYouWithMe has placed 21 veterans and veteran family members into specific digital roles with partner employers in areas like software development, business analytics and cyber. The initiative has also supported more than 3,000 UK veterans and veteran family members with access to free digital skills training through WithYouWithMe’s ‘Potential’ platform. 

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