Recruiting from a rich pool of talent

Steve Morriss

Army reservists make valuable employees for the infrastructure sector – recruit them and support them, says AECOM's chief executive for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, Steve Morriss

Military training equips individuals with a range of skills that can be applied directly to civilian sectors, including qualifications and experience directly transferable to jobs in infrastructure. With opportunities for leadership, team building and management training, the Army Reserve is no exception. Indeed, employers in the built environment are increasingly recognising the potential benefits that recruiting, retaining and supporting reservists can bring. 

As an ex-Royal Engineer Officer, I have seen first-hand the breadth of highly transferable skills reservists can take into their civilian careers. Leadership experience, including how to coordinate teams and get the best out of individuals, is very relevant for civilian roles. Through their training, reservists can develop valuable skills such as managing tight budgets, decision-making in the face of uncertainty and safe operation in high-risk environments – all attractive qualities for businesses in infrastructure. 

Reservists also have the opportunity to study for a wide range of civilian-recognised qualifications in disciplines including logistics, project management and construction. Credentials like these can complement the professional qualifications and the learning and development that employees attain in civilian jobs, which is beneficial for both individuals and their employer. 

But despite the many advantages of employing reservists, there often remains a lack of awareness among potential employers. Misconceptions about costs caused by the absence of employees for training or mobilisation can be seen to outweigh any potential benefits. 

Recognising the valuable skills and experience they can bring to the workplace, we at AECOM actively recruit reservists. We have also made enhancements to the company’s HR policy to support reservists in our employment. They receive 15 extra days’ paid annual leave for military training and deployment, which is a real differentiator in our recruitment drive, especially for graduates. For many reservists, balancing the demands of the military with their civilian job and home life can be tough. Introducing initiatives that make it easier for reservists to juggle their commitments can help businesses retain high-quality individuals. 

In addition, a new partnership with a Royal Engineer regiment has provided a direct link to support the recruitment of reservists from our graduate pool. Through this relationship, our graduates have attended training exercises at Sandhurst and Chetwynd Barracks and a number of them have since joined the Army Reserves. 

AECOM’s efforts to support reservists are part of the commitment we made when we signed the Armed Forces Covenant last year. Knowing what ex-military staff can add to our rich talent pool, we have also accelerated the recruitment of ex-servicemen and women to join the company’s UK and overseas operations. Last week the Ministry of Defence recognised our work with a Gold Award in its UK Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme. 

Reservists make a vital contribution to the delivery of the UK’s security. Their employers should ensure they get the recognition they deserve. And given the calibre of individuals who join the Reserves, supporting and encouraging their service can only be of mutual benefit. Companies that recognise the value of employing reservists are richly rewarded by the skills and experience these high-performing individuals bring back to the workplace. 

Steve Morriss is AECOM chief executive for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa