The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has pledged its commitment to encouraging automotive firms to recruit ex-military personnel at a time when upskilling the sector is of vital importance.
The SMMT has signed an Armed Forces Covenant, pledging that it will promote best practice, foster a culture and ethos of inclusivity, and make the commercial case to automotive companies to also sign up to this covenant.
This announcement reaffirms the work done through Mission Automotive, an initiative dedicated to placing ex-servicemen and women in jobs across the sector.
It was set up in partnership with the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the forces’ charity Mission Motorsport, and is supported by the Ministry of Defence.
As the UK is now looking to secure investment for battery plants ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, it hopes service leavers can help bridge the skills gap.
James Cameron, Mission Motorsport CEO, explained: ‘The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise, a commitment to ensure that those who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, should not be disadvantaged by their service to the country.
‘Service leavers and veterans are a national resource, and SMMT has been innovative in helping its members to share best practices, support each other, and harness that potential.
‘By helping to make the commercial case for companies, SMMT’s engagement and advocacy through its Mission Automotive initiative will encourage other industry bodies to follow suit and this should be celebrated.’
SMMT members have already used its help and resources to create engagement programmes, and align their interactions with the armed forces.
Already 55 member companies work with the forces to employ veterans, service leavers and their spouses across the industry and supply chain.
Johnny Mercer MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state for Defence People and Veterans, said: ‘The skills and training military personnel bring to civilian employers are incredibly important.
‘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.’
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes added: ‘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.
‘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.’