Industry conference highlights the need for more female service leavers in cyber

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With recent research revealing that UK female Service leavers are less likely to be employed than male Service leavers, the upcoming conference, ‘Women into Employment,’ from the Officers’ Association, will discuss the employment opportunities and challenges for female ex-military personnel while encouraging more organisations to become military-friendly employers.

The conference, ‘Developing civilian career opportunities for women from the Armed Forces community’, recognises the issues facing women veterans and provides practical employment advice. It also provides a forum for organisations who recognise the impact former military personnel deliver within the civilian work environment and highlights the benefits of hiring veterans to organisations, HR teams and hiring managers.

As businesses face skills and labour challenges in an increasingly digital and global economic landscape it is important that the experience which veterans have built up over years of service are harnessed. This includes strong communication and leadership skills, teamwork, social perceptiveness, flexibility, creative problem solving, judgement and decision making which are all vital to UK PLC.

Sponsored by the National Cyber Force, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, this event draws upon research published as part of the Defence Committee report into ‘Women in the Armed Forces: From Recruitment to Civilian Life’ to highlight the employment gap between women and their male counterparts, which remains acute.

It can take women up to nine months or longer to find civilian employment after leaving military service, and women are more likely to be economically inactive (20%) compared with men (9%).

With involvement from the UK’s security services and corporate sponsors, the event has a strong focus on encouraging women to pursue careers in STEM subjects, including cyber. In the UK, women make up just 8% of cyber security professionals, one of the world’s lowest percentages, and the Officers’ Association are working to connect women veterans with potential opportunities.

Women into Employment is a free virtual event being held on 24th March 2022 sponsored by the National Cyber Force and supported by J.P. Morgan and is open to all ranks, veterans, reservists, spouses, and partners.

Laura Blair, Employment Director at the Officers’ Association and former Army Major said: “Female, and indeed all ex-military personnel have incredible experience, key transferable skills and bring significant value to businesses – we champion these abilities to employers to help raise awareness of this valuable talent set.

“Our event brings together serving and ex-military personnel, spouses and employers and highlights an exciting array of job opportunities. It also shines light on the barriers and opportunities for women veterans in gaining post-service employment.

“Women have served in our Armed Forces for over 100 years and now make up around 11% of the UK Regular Forces and 15% of the Reserves. With the Government’s current goal of women accounting for 30% of recruits by 2030, it is vital that we address the issue of post-service employment and enable ex-servicewomen to harness their military skills and abilities to propel their career.”

Hannah Smith, Cyber Threat Intelligence Specialist at BT and former Cyber Analyst with the Royal Air Force said: “When women have equal job opportunities with men, society and the UK economy benefits. Following my Service, the path to employment was not as straightforward as it might have been, but I was fortunate. BT has a robust programme of recruiting from across the Armed Services community and they recognised my skill set, aptitudes and strengths.

“I really enjoy working in cyber, and I am sharing my transition experience to highlight the benefits of hiring women veterans and to encourage more women to consider careers in STEM subjects including cyber.

“BT provided significant support to me, right from the day one. It is vital that organisations not only strive to employ those from diverse backgrounds, but that they support and encourage them to succeed once there.”

Chris Recchia, Partner and lead for Deloitte’s Military Transition and Talent Programme said: “Every career in the armed forces forges transferable skills that are more critical for businesses than ever before. Not only should organisations be employing more veterans, but we should also be figuring out how to retain the ones we have because they are so good and ambitious.”

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