Armed Forces Champion discusses workforce barriers for veterans

Sergeant Frazer Stark in Afghanistan

The University of Leicester’s Armed Forces Champion has spoken out about the challenges military veterans face entering the workforce after retirement.

Sergeant Frazer Stark served in the British Army at the age of 17-years old in September 2005.

He was deployed to Afghanistan three times, where on his second trip, he was part of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Disposal team and on his third, he worked with police and intelligence analysts to disrupt IED networks

He was also assigned to Northern Ireland as a Weapons Intelligence Specialist and appointed to British Forces Germany, supporting UK deployments across Europe.

In 2014, Frazer returned to the UK to instruct young soldiers on operating remote-controlled vehicles to disrupt IEDs as well as explosive safety.

After 16 years of service, Frazer submitted an early termination of regular military service to join the Career Development Service at the University of Leicester.

Frazer was offered the job at the University thanks to its guaranteed interview scheme for military personnel.

According to Frazer, “A barrier that a lot of people from the military face are their qualifications and education.

“The Army recruits generally from low socioeconomic backgrounds and generally these people have not gone to university and so it is definitely a barrier that people face.

“Those who leave the military have lots of experience in leadership, management and working in high-tempo and high-pressure environments.”

Frazer said: “I was fortunate enough that whilst in the military I did my degree with the Open University and so throughout six or seven years of my military career, I was doing part-time education in my own time to upskill myself ready for leaving.”

“Another barrier is imposter syndrome,” Frazer said. “When people leave the military, perhaps all they have done up to that point is work in kinetic environments and a very niche skill area.

“I’ve talked to a lot of service leavers with imposter syndrome who feel that they wouldn’t be able to deliver in another sector despite having so many transferrable skills that high profile jobs ask for (resilience, adaptability, problem solving etc.)

“Organisations are getting better at recognising these, through things like the Armed Forces Covenant, which the University is a gold member of.”

The Armed Forces Covenant is a recognition by the UK Government that ensures that those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces, as well as their families are not disadvantaged compared to others in the provision of public and commercial services.

The University of Leicester’s President & Vice-Chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah signed the University’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant in 2020.

As part of the Covenant, the University of Leicester recognises military skills and qualifications in its recruitment and selection process with positive actions such as the Armed Forces into Allied Health scheme.

Veterans who meet the criteria in job specifications are guaranteed a job interview at the University.

Members of the Reserve Forces are entitled to 10 additional days of paid leave for Reserve training.

The University of Leicester is also committed to providing flexibility in work arrangements for Service Spouses and Partners before, during and after a partner’s deployment.

More information on how the University of Leicester demonstrates its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant can be found here.