The Ministry of Defence has announced Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce as a Gold Award recipient in its Defence Employer Recognition Scheme for 2017, making it the only Chamber of Commerce in the UK to receive this status. Announced by Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, the Award recognises Forth Valley Chamber's practical support in connecting the Armed Forces Family with business and employment opportunities. The Chamber created and led the Veterans into New Enterprise (ViNE) project and has supported over 120 transitioning veterans and spouses, with some going on to starting their own business or moving into Further & Higher Education. The Chamber also implemented "Leadership in Practice," devised in collaboration with Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, providing small and medium sized businesses with the very best in leadership skills and training.
Commenting on the announcement, Michelle McKearnon, Chief Executive, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, said:
"We are honoured to receive the Gold Award from the Ministry of Defence, recognising the work of the Chamber and our members. The Armed Forces Family are an asset to the Scottish business community and the benefits they bring are immediate. Having offered a transitioning soldier a work placement at the Chamber, I witnessed first-hand the value that was added to our organisation and I would encourage all businesses to commit to hiring from this exceptional pool of individuals and draw on their frontline skills and life experience, as a way of growing your business. For the Chamber, receiving the Gold Award is a milestone in our journey and we are committed to supporting more individuals within the Armed Forces Family in the future."
Congratulating Forth Valley Chamber, Liz Cameron OBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
"Forth Valley Chamber has demonstrated the innovation of the Chamber Network and its commitment to the local community it operates in. Supporting members of the Armed Forces Family is the right thing to do for our communities but it's also right for our economy. We know there are skills shortages across many of our sectors and attracting, recruiting and retaining skilled staff continues to be a challenge. A solution, is to look beyond the traditional methods of recruitment and start paying serious attention to those leaving the Armed Forces, who already have the right skills and experience that businesses in Scotland need. From leadership to management, to a strong work ethic and practical skills, this is a readymade pool of talent that business can tap into, and I encourage more businesses in Scotland to get on board and pledge to sign the Armed Forces Covenant."
WO1 Simon Talbot, ROSO, Scottish & North Irish Yeomanry, Transitioning Soldier, said:
"As I was approaching the end of my career in HM Forces, I was offered the opportunity to undertake a Civilian Workplace Attachment (CWA) with Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce. I found the whole experience hugely beneficial, not only as an opportunity to showcase the transferable skills I gained from my time in the Force, but also for me to gain exposure to the pressures encountered by small businesses. I would thoroughly recommend to all employers to collaborate with and hire the stream of highly capable people leaving HM Forces that can add value to any industry or business."
Captain Kenny Darnton, Personnel Recovery Centre, Edinburgh, commented on Forth Valley Chamber's 'Vocational Insight Training Days' to wounded, sick and injured soldiers:
"We partnered with Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce as an industry partner to provide "coal-face" training to soldiers prior to their release from service. From the outset, the Chamber was engaging and instrumental in providing practical support to soldiers during their recovery journey, enabling them to make a smooth transition to civilian life.
"The expert advice and knowledge provided by the Chamber gave real-life insight to soldiers and enabled a more focussed approach to navigating the jobs market. The positive effects on the soldiers' confidence, as a direct result of the training delivered by Michelle and the Chamber team, must be commended."
Congratulating the winners, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon said:
“These companies have shown the gold standard of commitment to supporting members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. They have taken meaningful steps to ensure the Defence community are not disadvantaged by the sacrifice they make in helping keep this country safe. The actions of these employers make it crystal clear that regardless of size, location, or sector, employing people with military skills is good for business.”