North East England Chamber of Commerce has signed an Armed Forces Covenant pledging to support all staff members, whether they are ex-forces personnel or Reservist members, within its business.
Chamber chief executive, James Ramsbotham, who himself served in the military earlier in his career, said: “The Armed Forces are highly valued members of our region. Not only do members of the military community and veterans bring important knowledge and skills to our North East companies, the Army also provides over £150m income to businesses. We are delighted to pledge our support for them.”
By signing the Covenant the Chamber committed to ensuring none of its employees face disadvantages as a result previous or current military service and staff are encouraged to become active members of the reservists.
Gary McLafferty, the Ministry of Defences’ Regional Employment Engagement Director, North of England Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, said: “The Armed Forces Community can contribute real value to a business, both through employees who are ex-military, who bring a wealth of skills and experience, and as potential customers.”
Chamber Partner Member, Esh Group, is also one of around 80 North East businesses who have already signed up to the Covenant. As well as fair treatment there is also a need for more reservists with approximately 34,000 in the UK at present and a target of 35,000 to be reached by 2019. They are needed in a wide range of professions including drivers, engineers, police and even submariners.
Reservists also in turn learn skills that help their employability including leadership, teamwork, self-confidence, first aid skills, and confidence building.
By signing the Covenant the Chamber is making a commitment to support the employment of veterans of all ages and their service spouses and partners, as well as offering a degree of flexibility in granting leave for service duties during deployment.
Within the North East the Army consists of three regular combat units based at Catterick and Albermarle Barracks and numerous reserve units, alongside the Royal Navy at HMS Calliope on the Tyne and Royal Air Force Boulmer in Northumberland.