2020-GCU veteran work inspires others

HE:FE Veterans Champion's Network Conference marks major breakthrough.

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 08:24:00 GMT

A life-changing initiative giving veterans a fresh start, pioneered by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has led to almost all higher and further education institutes in Scotland taking up the mantle.

A year ago the HE:FE Veterans Champion's Network was launched at a major event hosted by GCU, in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), showcasing how both universities are helping Armed Forces veterans find new careers and adapt to civilian life.

Since then, 90 per cent of Scottish universities and 70 per cent of further education colleges have signed up to support veterans, a new information toolkit has been launched, and work has begun on an SCQF mapping of military qualifications, a Graduate Apprenticeship Scheme and getting more help for veterans' children.

Today (February 17) the 'HE:FE Veterans Champion's Network – The Next Stage' conference will be held in Edinburgh City Chambers, hosted by Local Authority Veterans Champion Lord Provost Frank Ross, to mark these major achievements and look at what more can be done.

The event will be attended by universities and colleges, and their Veterans and Armed Forces Champions, veterans' charities and agencies, the MOD and Scottish Government.

GCU and ENU have been helping veterans for a number of years to find new educational pathways into work and have signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant promising to treat those who serve and their families fairly. Last year, both universities received a prestigious award from the MOD for their "outstanding support".

Jim Castle, GCU Veterans and Armed Forces Champion and HE:FE Veterans Champion's Network Chair, said: "We have made fantastic progress in a year. Our aim was to get everyone in the higher and further education sector signed up to the Network, the Covenant and at least one person in place within their organisation to become a Veterans and Armed Forces Champion.

"The vast majority have now signed up to help veterans and their families find new education pathways after leaving the Armed Forces and changing their lives for the better. It's what's been happening here at GCU and Edinburgh Napier and showcasing our progress that has led to this successful outcome."

GCU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Valerie Webster said she was "delighted" the collaboration with ENU had led to such a "groundswell" of support across Higher and Further Education.

"Sharing good practice and discussing the challenges faced by veterans and their families not only benefits individuals but allows institutions to use that knowledge to further develop their approaches to supporting veterans and their families. I am sure Monday's event will not only strengthen existing collaborations but will stimulate many new ones," she added.

Scottish Veterans Commissioner Charlie Wallace said he wanted veterans to secure "meaningful" jobs that are "beneficial" for all, rather than settling for "whatever job they can get".

He added: "While obtaining additional qualifications can improve circumstances and prospects, it is not a path currently taken by many veterans. With the majority of colleges and universities in Scotland following the lead of Glasgow Caledonian University's pioneering Veterans' Centre which offers tailored support in accessing further and higher education, we hope to see more members of the veterans' community maximising their talent."