To celebrate National Careers Week, Kier is hosting an Ex-Armed Forces Careers Day. Here, James Lewis defence framework manager at Kier and army veteran talks about his transition into civilian life as well as his advice for personnel looking to leave the forces.  

“For 23 years I served in the Royal Engineers with a primary focus of infrastructure engineering. The Royal Engineers is the construction arm of the military and so, during my tenure in the army I fulfilled several roles, ranging from designer to senior project manager, in a number of locations including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Jordan. I was also able to complete a construction management degree.

In June 2017, I started my transition to leave the Armed Forces and in July 2017, I joined Kier as its defence framework manager. I felt that as I had served in the Royal Engineers, joining the construction industry was a natural transition for me and a logistical step in my career.

Fortunately, I found the transition relatively easy, as the work I was involved in during my military career meant that the skills were transferable. Pairing this with the nature of construction projects and working with contractors, the move was smooth. I have been fortunate since joining Kier and my line managers have always been very supportive of my background and the support I now give to others in terms of mentoring and careers advice.

However, I know I am one of the lucky ones and this isn’t always the case for military veterans. Leaving the military and returning to civilian life can be stressful for people, a lot of personnel have been in the Services since they left school and it’s all they know. It can be daunting leaving the forces and looking into what job opportunities are available to you after your tenure.

The transition period is an important time for people that are due to leave the forces to discover what they want to do and what transferable skills they have. This is why companies like Kier work with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), the official provider of Armed Forces resettlement. They work together to look at resettlement opportunities for those leaving the military and what work they can offer veterans.

The characteristics of ex-forces personnel means that they bring great benefits to companies. They have a great work ethic, are very loyal and bring a diverse range of skills and experiences to teams they join. I would recommend the built environment to anyone transitioning from the Services to civilian life. There is a range of jobs and opportunities available that will suit a range of skills personnel developed during their time in the military.  

The advice I would give to any veteran is to keep their mind open to opportunities. The military experience they have is great and it gives them a great grounding to embark upon a new challenge and career. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be shy in coming forward for opportunities, keep the ‘can-do’ attitude that you would have learnt in the forces and you’ll succeed.”

Kier is hosting its first Ex-Forces Kier Careers Day from 10am-2pm on 4th March at Tempsford Hall, Sandy SG19 2BD. The day will offer personnel looking to leave the forces the opportunity to chat and engage with Kier employees, receive careers advice and discuss work experience opportunities available at Kier.