Ian Davies served in the Royal Artillery for 22-years, leaving earlier this year. Ian was a Targeteer, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Brigade Operations Warrant Officer/Manager, Battery Sergeant Major (BSM) 129 (Dragon) Bty 4 RA. Ian advised “As a BSM, I was head of operations so the day to day tasking and resourcing of the workforce under my command (Officers’ and soldiers’) to specific scheduled and pre-planned events. Attending meetings/conferences both internally and externally. Ensuring the workforce conducted physical and professional training and also ensuring the workforce complied with standards both in physical appearance and professional standards. I produced a set of daily “orders” which communicated the next day’s taskings and responsibilities to all personnel. The skills I gained over my career were mainly hard skills, like level 6 in strategic management. I was a training instructor in multiple roles, this bringing with it lesson planning, delegation of lessons, content research, subject matter expertise, IT skills etc. Personally, the biggest skill I gained was communication. I am naturally a quiet person, therefore, I had to build confidence in oral communication (briefings), large groups, communicating with high ranking staff officers etc. I gained skills in communicating with the younger generations in my later career. I can be an unemotional person and had to learn quickly to manage situations with empathy and even as a senior manager, be seen as a person the younger soldiers can approach. This I believe has made me a more open minded person, being objective when approaching new things, listening to other points of view, and being willing to admit what you don’t know. Not being an electrician makes that last point very pertinent. Being able to deal with difficult contractors/employees but reciprocating that by being able to have a chat with an apprentice who may have concerns.”
Upon leaving the Army, Ian secured a role as a Health, Safety and Environmental Manager (North) for Wingate Electrical plc. “I secured this role through contact with BuildForce and gaining NEBOSH General and NEBOSH Construction, SMSTS and First aid at Work competencies. You must have a clear idea of what you want to do. Plan and book the relevant courses well in advance which informs your resettlement plan. Ensure early initiation of your resettlement plan. Conduct CTW at the earliest opportunity. Attend as many employment fairs as possible to give you an understanding of what is out there. My biggest regret was not speaking to BuildForce earlier. Put yourself out there and get as many placements as possible, this is by far the most important step. I learnt so much from my placements which informed my decision on what route to pursue. BuildForce will support you through this phase. The biggest challenge for me was retaining responsibility as a BSM whilst trying to resettle. Regimental headquarters were not very helpful in facilitating an early handover/takeover, this is where your planned resettlement forecast is key! 25 days that a Regiment can’t touch you for. I conducted the majority of my placements in my own time. During resettlement I would have liked a more succinct brief concerning finances i.e., you must call HMRC when you get a new job and inform them of your pension; initiation of a HMRC personal tax account; checking tax codes when you find employment. Explanation of company car procedures like benefits in kind. Majority of companies now offer this benefit.”
With regards to the new role, it includes “HSE policies; creating and maintaining all documentation in regard to safety policies. I carry out approximately 3-4 site safety audits throughout each week across England and on a monthly basis across Scotland too. These include general health and safety, behavioural safety and compliance audits involving, identity of safety goals, responsibilities, preventative actions, training. I have conducted multiple incident investigations throughout the business where requirements are set out by RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). Risk assessment creation and review across every project over all regions and Key Performance Indicator reviews (a primary KPI may be number of accidents, employee absence, cost of accidents etc). Equipment and training associated with that equipment e.g., is the equipment being maintained and planned, preventative maintenance carried out. Driving licences checked; med equipment in date i.e., eye wash stations, first aid kits.
A typical day in work is I log on and check emails and travel to whatever location that I have pre-planned the month prior for that month and either conduct a site inspection, RAMS reviews, environmental inspection, office/stores inspections or anything that has come up and must be dealt with ad hoc. Retention of information is key, I am asked a lot of questions on the spot in this role, therefore, I spend a significant amount of time maintaining my knowledge learnt through the NEBOSH course, SMSTS etc. I also have to conduct toolbox talks, face fit testing so I can lean back into the training environment. I am also an ECS invigilator assessing personnel for their health and safety assessments when required for them to get CSCS/ECS cards, without these you can’t get on site.
Advice I would give someone who is leaving the Armed Forces and seeking a new career in construction, is have an idea of what you would like to do well in advance, research pay structures within that role and whether that suits your needs i.e., can you afford to live on that set wage, plan your taxes. Have a solid plan B, as much effort must be put into plan B as in plan A. Expect setbacks. Be open minded. placements, placements, placements.
Resettlement advice: read and understand your rights within JSP 534 and JSP 575 and ask about the 3 tiers of resettlement:
First line is your Unit Resettlement Officer: they will offer advice on your entitlement and the administrative process to access it.
Second line involves the SRA (senior Recruiting Advisor) for your catchment e.g. Catterick, York etc. and they will offer guidance on what resettlement plan will best suit you.
Third line is provided by CTP, this includes individual career advice, interview techniques, LinkedIn workshops, CV workshops as well as funding for travel and subsistence.
Three words to describe a career in construction are team oriented, systematic, and technical. To describe a Veteran is adaptable, resourceful, and diligent.