Car industry aims to employ ex-forces personnel with new covenant

The covenant is a “commitment to advocate for recruitment and retention of ex-military personnel”.

The UK car industry has signed a deal that could see more veterans of the armed forces join automotive companies. The covenant signed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) pledges the organisation’s “commitment to advocate for recruitment and retention of ex-military personnel across the automotive industry”.

a man standing in front of a building: First Customer Bentley Bacalar W12 Engine

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First Customer Bentley Bacalar W12 Engine

As part of the scheme, the SMMT has helped its members create “tailored engagement programs”, helping them get through to people from the armed forces. And the organisation has suggested “mapped-out career paths” that translate military skills into qualifications required by the sector.

The move is designed to make the transition from the forces to factories easier for veterans, allowing the car industry to tap into the talents of ex-military personnel. In particular, the SMMT says former military engineers’ experience with “high-voltage equipment” makes them well suited to work in the burgeoning electric vehicle sector.

a group of people standing next to a truck: First electric van prototypes in build at LEVC

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First electric van prototypes in build at LEVC

With a new battery-producing gigafactory planned on the site of Coventry Airport and a ban on the sale of conventional petrol- and diesel-powered cars beginning in 2030, the SMMT says the British car industry is facing something of a “skills gap”. But thanks to the experience some military personnel have with advanced high-voltage systems, the organisation is hoping the veterans can help bridge that gap.

“Upskilling our industry will be crucial as new technologies transform the sector, and ex-military personnel are an often-untapped talent pool that can provide these in-demand skills,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “We are incredibly proud to support Mission Motorsport in helping service leavers embark on new career paths and signing the Armed Forces Covenant cements SMMT’s long-term commitment to this cause. As events of the past year have shown, the veteran community is a real asset to automotive businesses and will be central not just to a successful and sustainable recovery, but to our future success as we transition to a connected, autonomous and zero emissions future.”

More on the car industry’s work with veterans:

Meanwhile Johnny Mercer, the MP for Plymouth Moor View, a former soldier and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans, said the SMMT’s members should sign the covenant and bring military skills into their businesses.

“The skills and training military personnel bring to civilian employers are incredibly important,” he said. “By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, employers are harnessing the value that the armed forces community contributes to business. That is why it is vitally important that employers publicly pledge their support for the armed forces community – it means a lot to the cohort that we are trying to represent. In this field, it is hard to find a better exemplar of best practice than SMMT.”

a car engine: Nissan LEAF production in Sunderland, UK

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Nissan LEAF production in Sunderland, UK