For many Australian veterans, undertaking a job search following their Australian Defence Force (ADF) career is unnerving at best.
The Canberra job market is notoriously competitive. Throw in cultural contrasts between defence and civilian workplaces, and suitable roles are even harder to find.
Canberra-based Australian business SME Gateway has partnered with Right Management to enable its members to access the Right Management Job Connections program. The program links employers with civilian-trained and ready veterans searching for their next career.
One such employer and SME Gateway member, local veteran-owned company RCD Consulting has worked since 2021 to train and employ ADF veterans to provide critical skills coveted by the Department of Defence.
Company CEO and former ADF member Tom Sellings says his team’s offering goes both ways.
“We help Defence solve their skills gaps by training and upskilling veterans in engineering, project management, cybersecurity, and other technical fields,” he says.
“We also help veterans translate their service into the civilian landscape and offer them a genuinely exciting career that recognises their skills and experience.”
ADF veterans make up 80 per cent of RCD’s team, including Mr Sellings himself.
“I served in the ADF from 2011 to 2016,” he says. “Transitioning to civilian work was very challenging; I started right back on a graduate salary.
“I understand the challenges other veterans face, like feeling unable to compete in the civilian sector.”
Through the SME Gateway and Right Management partnership, RCD accessed the Job Connections program to seek skilled, coached, and mentored veterans and their partners as prospective employees.
Mr Sellings says this relationship is worth its weight in gold – not only to his company, but to many veterans living in Canberra and around Australia.
“Our work with SME Gateway and Right Management has been really special,” Mr Sellings says.
“They have outstanding support resources available for veterans and veteran employers. The Job Connections program is centred on compassion and understanding; that’s why their work complements our own so well.”
Through this partnership, RCD found Ryan Maris, a former senior non-commissioned officer with the Royal Australian Navy.
The team saw Mr Maris’ potential right away.
“When we first met Ryan, he had been searching to find a job that valued his significant experience in the Navy,” Mr Sellings says. “He found it difficult to communicate with civilian employers, but we knew we wanted him on our team as soon as we spoke.
“While we prepare a permanent employment offer for Ryan, we’ve arranged a funded training opportunity worth around $5500.”
Mr Maris had been searching for employment for nearly six months before he was connected with RCD.
“My motivation was on its way out,” Mr Maris says. “I felt frustrated and depressed, to be perfectly honest. I just wasn’t landing interviews. I felt like my decade of service was seen as more of a con than a pro.
“Despite being able to supply pages of qualifications that include two diplomas, I applied to over 40 positions with no success. Fortunately, once I was connected with Tom and his team, I finally saw an opportunity to grow.”
Mr Maris gained confidence in his ability and learned how to speak more clearly about the skills he developed in the Navy.
“The confidence boost when someone takes a chance on you and invests in your learning is huge,” he says.
“I have a far greater understanding of my own skills. I’m really proud of and grateful for RCD’s support and belief in my success.”
RCD hopes to become one of Australia’s few veteran-owned registered training organisations this year. Success in this venture would be followed by a 2024 graduate program under the RCD brand.
“We’re proud to announce we’ve received a $160,000 Skilling Australian Defence Industry grant from the Department of Industry,” Mr Sellings says. “We’ve been given this opportunity to deliver more training to veterans and help solve Defence’s skills shortages.
“With this grant we can target our stretch goal of becoming one of Australia’s few veteran-centric RTOs.
“We will be able to offer more veterans the careers they deserve and help solve Australians’ veteran employment challenges. That’s why I get up in the morning.”
RCD is a proud veteran-owned consultancy and member of SME Gateway.