The face of construction is changing and the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) has called for an improvement in the mindset of construction workers. Long gone are the days of turning a blind eye to the chauvinistic wolf whistle and never-ending tea breaks. The Construction worker, at all levels has entered the age of accountability. Employers now consciously seek out increasingly better quality skilled and unskilled labour that represents their company ethos, image and culture. Such increasing standards have led to the active recruitment of ex-Forces personnel whose extraordinary experience and skill set offers a valuable dimension to the norm.
Around 24,000 people leave the Armed Forces each year, and there are an estimated five million veterans in the UK, Ministry of Defence figures show. It would seem that employers within the construction and development industry would do well to consider them given the transferable skills they come equipped with.
Valuable qualities such as loyalty, good timekeeping, discipline, teamwork, determination and smart appearance are often attributed to former service personnel, but in fact they have much more to offer a civilian employer.
It may surprise many people to hear the Army alone offers more than 150 different trades, including electrics, plumbing, joinery and general labouring and support. The fact candidates are, on the whole, tidy, trustworthy, loyal, incredibly driven, with operational and supervisory experience in some of the most challenging environments, should be seen as a bonus to everything else, and not the only selling point. Contractors benefit from the clear sense, can-do attitude of ex-services staff.
An ex-soldier’s typical approach to a complicated problem isn’t to walk away or fudge it, it’s: let’s reduce it down to the key essentials of what you need to do to make a positive difference. This built in problem-solving quality not only adds value to productivity and the reduction of quality errors but lends itself to the strong culture of safe behaviour on site. There’s an intolerance in most ex-Forces to fudging or ambiguity. It increases with seniority. If you’ve been a corporal, sergeant or officer, you have experienced the weight of responsibility and accountability for getting things done. They don’t see problems but obstacles to overcome. There’s a sense of: give me something that is difficult – that’s a challenge and I will relish it.
Regardless of the entry level of ex-Forces personnel into the construction industry they take with them a multi-dimensional capability that harnesses old fashioned work ethic, honesty, safety and a desire to continue adding value.