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Open University – Looking to the future

No one needs to tell you that resettling into civilian life will be a challenge, that the economy is still in recovery or that it might be tough to get a decent new job – those things are ‘givens’. What someone does need to tell you about is the huge opportunity that’s open to people with your particular set of skills and how you can take advantage of it.

By Melissa Sutcliffe

Your country needs you!

You’ve already developed great communication, leadership and organisational skills during your Military career and there’s no doubt you excel at teamwork, problem solving and adaptability, all of which are very valuable to the job market. But did you know that there’s a huge demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in the UK?

Filling the skills gap

Employers are crying out for people with STEM skills and are increasingly struggling to find the staff they need. According to The UK Commission for Employment and Skills, there will be two million new jobs between now and 2020 that will demand higher STEM skills than in the past. Maybe you’re already working in a Military engineering, intelligence, medical or analyst role? Maybe you’re not but you’re interested in developing your career in this direction?

Exploiting opportunities

The MoD looks to your future by being strongly committed to your resettlement, giving you access to help and tools to set you up for civilian life. One of the ways it does this is by working closely with The Open University (OU) to invest in your education. No matter what rank you’ve achieved, where you’ve Served or what trade you’re in, the OU can help you to develop an exciting career path, making you more attractive to a civilian employer.

With over 600 OU modules to choose from, across a wide range of subjects, including Business School qualifications, you really can develop your career in any direction. However, if you are interested in developing STEM skills, then OU study can set you up for a solid career where your skills will be heavily in demand.

Choose from a range of cutting-edge science, engineering or mathematics courses and study at certificate, diploma, degree or masters level. If you want to develop your technical skills then the OU is a certified Microsoft IT Academy and a Cisco Academy, offering programmes that are highly valued in the IT industry.

Getting financial support

As you’re in the Armed Forces, you’re eligible for significant financial support (whatever you choose to study) through Resettlement Grants and the Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) scheme – an MoD scheme that makes a considerable financial contribution across three years. You can take advantage of these initiatives when applying to study with the OU.

Fitting study in

There’s no denying that OU study requires commitment and self-discipline but you’ve already got that. The distance learning approach enables you to fit study around your changeable personal and professional life. No matter what branch of the Forces you’re in, you can adapt your study schedule around your Military commitments, earning a valuable qualification wherever you’re stationed.

To find out how the OU could help you broaden your career horizons or be better equipped for civilian life, visit: http://www.openuniversity.co.uk/civvystreet

Making Progress

Service-leavers can select from hundreds of courses being run by the Open University. Andy’s story, below, shows how further qualifications can genuinely enhance your employability.

CAS000080_custom_thumbnail_0“I was in the Royal Navy, serving as a Leading Hand on board HMS Iron Duke and we were in the Adriatic Sea during the 1999 Kosovo War,” says dad of two, Andy, 44.

“I joined the Navy at 19 as an electrical mechanic, but was selected to do an engineering diploma, and that rekindled the interest I’d had in maths at school. So I decided to study with The Open University, first with some basic maths courses, then the full BSc Honours in Physical Sciences.

There is nowhere on a ship where you can get peace and quiet, especially when you are involved in a war, but I got used to working in the dining room surrounded by noise and clatter and the other crew members got used to me sitting there with my books.

Studying

“There were times when I didn’t want to study, but I pushed myself on because I really wanted to finish it, especially when I got to Level 3 courses and closer to the end. I just did not want to give up.”

Andy served with the Navy for 22 years before leaving in 2009.

“I had risen to Chief Petty Officer, and had been selected to become Warrant Officer, but that would have meant three more years at sea, and it would have been too hard on my family.”

Having BSc after my name definitely helped me to find a job; in fact, I was headhunted by a gas turbine company, and I left the Navy on the Friday and started work on the Monday.

I now work as a gas turbine engineer, which also takes me all over the world. Last week I was on an oil rig in the North Sea and next week I’m off to India – but now I’m only away for weeks at a time instead of months.

I haven’t done any studying since leaving the Navy,” says Andy, “but funnily enough a colleague is currently studying engineering and I think it has rubbed off on me, because I am now contemplating going back to my studies and doing a Masters degree.”