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Veteran unemployment rates at odds with skills

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
18 October 2018 1 minute readShare
Australian defence force

New research suggests that despite veterans outperforming the general population on a number of key skills needed in business, the unemployment rate of ex-defence personnel remains disproportionately high.

While Prince Harry and his pregnant wife Meghan Markle are in Australia for the opening of the Invictus Games – a multi-sport event for wounded returned services men and women – new research revealed a striking disparity between the skills of former servicemen and women and their rates of employment.

The LinkedIn Veteran’s Skills Data, produced in conjunction with Westpac, identified 12 key skills common among ex-defence personnel that are highly desirable in the business world.

They are:

  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Strategy
  • Strategic planning
  • Program management
  • Business strategy
  • Negotiation
  • Business process improvement
  • Business analysis
  • Business process management

Indeed, current and former defence force personnel outperformed the national average by six times on program management, three times on change management and twice in terms of leadership.

Nevertheless, the research suggested that underemployment is vastly higher among veterans than the general population, and some 5,500 personnel face unemployment each year after leaving the defence forces.

For Westpac’s consumer bank chief executive, George Frazis, the situation is a highly personal one, given that he previously served as an engineer in the RAAF.

According to Mr Frazis, providing support for returned veterans isn’t “just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense”.

“Every defence member receives exceptional leadership training; they know how to work in cross-functional teams in an agile manner and are extremely strategic and resilient. Veterans work hard and understand how to deliver on a mission and be motivated by a higher purpose,” he said.

“The research findings reinforce the significant capabilities former defence members can bring to the business sector. The transferable skills veterans possess, such as leadership, strategy and change management, are of great value for any organisation.”

In 2016, a start-up aimed at helping veterans secure employment – WithYouWithMe – revealed that returned servicepeople faced an unemployment rate at a staggering five times the national average, at the time sitting at 30.2 per cent.

At the time, several My Business readers said they would “feel proud” and “be happy” to employ veterans, given they “know the meaning of work and loyalty”.

Veteran unemployment rates at odds with skills
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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