Can the UK really become the best place to be a veteran by 2028?

Can the UK really become the best place to be a veteran by 2028?

Meredyth Grant

Last week the Office for Veterans’ Affairs released their 2022-2024 strategy outlining how the UK Government will support veterans over the next two years.

Looking back to when the Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) was established there is now a voice for UK veterans at the heart of the government. An additional £3m was provided for mental health after the launch of Op COURAGE and £15m was provided to support Armed Forces charities. The perception of veterans in the UK continues to improve; however, there’s also not enough support for females, ethnic minorities and the LGBT veteran communities.

In the strategy paper the OVA outlines its action plan to address how the government can better support the veteran community and provide solid foundations from which to build better support networks over the next 2 years and beyond.

What does the OVA strategy pledge to support veterans?

The OVA has made 60 + commitments and allocated £70M+ of funds to address the following:

  • Delivering a step-change in support Maximising veteran employability
  • Addressing historic hurt or disadvantage
  • Dealing with the legacy from historic operations
  • Ensuring a high standard of support across the UK

How are they going to do this?

The OVA will begin by: Understanding the veteran community by collating data and research to ensure government policy is rooted in robust evidence Transforming services for veterans: improving services to make sure veterans and their families have the support they need Recognising veterans’ contribution to society and challenging negative stereotypes.

So what’s the plan?

The government has stated that it will continue to work closely with and support Armed Forces charities given their key role in supporting the veteran community. In addition to the £10m a year already provided to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust by the MOD, they’ve given: £6m to support charities through the Covid‐19 pandemic and £475k to support the development of a digital and data strategy for the sector.

One of the first things to be put in place is using data that already exists to give a better understanding of the veteran community. This will help identify veterans with specific skills and put them on the right track for their future. By implementing the plan it will help build on the range of existing academic and other research which looks at the experiences of veterans and their families. By working closely with charities and academic institutions the OVA will ensure that insights are fed into the government's policy making.

What does the Veteran's Strategy 2022-2024 mean for TechVets?

This Veterans Strategy Action Plan is fantastic to see. It’s long overdue, too many veterans have struggled to access available services due to a lack of collaboration, coordination and adequate signposting. Time and time again, veterans come to TechVets as a result of word of mouth or referral. We want to see veterans better informed so that when they begin the resettlement process they already have a clear idea of the scope of incredible support that is available to them. We know our TechVets members and our community really well; but all veterans are different and with the OVA focusing on research and data we can tailor our programmes and support to better understand and meet the needs of the veterans that access and benefit from our services.

The intention to develop a digital identity system is welcome. A system of this nature would vastly improve the way veterans access services. Everything we do is online or increasingly digital and it is crucial that our veterans and their families are able to safely and securely access the services and support available to them - even from their mobile devices. But it’s not just about our veterans, it's also about UK and international business and how they can can harness the incredible skills and unique experience of our veterans. Many great organisations and companies would love to provide support to veterans and their families but have no way of verifying their service. I’d welcome the opportunity to share my thoughts with the Office for Veterans’ Affairs about the challenges TechVets has encountered with our industry partners and how the use of technology could make a real difference to the lives and employability of veterans and their families.

Delivering a step-change in support for veterans and their families is essential. It will help TechVets to maximise an individual’s skill set and therefore future employability. This is key to giving veterans the opportunity to secure positive life outcomes. The government’s pledge to improve the Enhanced Learning Credit Scheme is a fantastic step in the right direction. This revision is long overdue. The scheme has become outdated and difficult to use for both those providing opportunities as well as those wishing to access them. Giving veterans access to the right training opportunities and developing the capability of the Career Transition Partnership will make the career resettlement service offered to veterans and their families more efficient and effective. The veterans we meet in TechVets are leaving the armed forces equipped with skills and expertise that benefit not only themselves but our economy too.

It’s fantastic to see that the OVA is focused on maintaining momentum to ensure that veterans can find quality and long-term employment after leaving the services. The tech and cyber security industries are a perfect fit for veterans, the industry is booming at such a rate that veteran’s who retrain in this sector will secure themselves long-term employment.

  • Despite the current economic climate, 2020 was a new record year for cyber security investment with UK cyber security businesses raising over £821 million across 73 deals – more than twice that raised in 2019
  • The sector’s total annual revenue has continued to rise (by 7 per cent), reaching £8.9 billion within the most recent financial year.
  • The sector contributed more than £4 billion to the economy - up 6 per cent in the last year, with mainly mature firms driving growth

Source: UK Government

What’s next?

In 2024, the government will develop a fuller Veterans Strategy refresh, setting out the policy outcomes established in the Strategy for our Veterans, and identifying what remains to be done to deliver on the policy ambition of making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran by 2028. This strategy is full of pledges and concepts that could drastically improve the prospects of UK veterans. I sincerely hope that all involved with implementing the plan can work together and collaborate effectively to create a country that serves it’s veterans as they have served us.