In my role as Head of the Civil Service I get to see the value of reserve forces from both perspectives.
With a foot in both camps, reservists are the bridge between military and the rest of the society, enabling the transfer of knowledge, skills and experience between the two. For civilian employers, this means a chance to benefit from the world-class training and unsurpassed professional standards which are the hallmark of the British armed forces.
Civil servants who serve in the reserve forces develop transferable skills in areas like teamwork, leadership and problem-solving. They learn to work under pressure and to focus on delivery, often in challenging circumstances. This benefits them as individuals, the Civil Service as an organisation, and the public we serve.
Take the Territorial Army soldier, whose role as a platoon commander enabled her to develop the presentation and public speaking skills she uses on a daily basis as a policy official in Whitehall; or the Royal Naval Reservist who drew upon his experience of sustaining a warship at sea to coordinate the logistics for the recent G8 summit in Northern Ireland; or the team leader in the MOD who is better placed to deliver a defence project because he’s experienced the requirement first hand as a reservist in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
Developing skills in the Civil Service is at the heart of our Civil Service Reform Plan. Rising public expectations and the long term economic challenges mean we have to adapt the way we deliver services. We want to learn from other organisations and bring in new skills – and we know one of the best ways of doing this is by creating opportunities for Civil Servants to spend time working outside government through secondments and interchange. There is much that reservists can offer a large and dynamic employer like the Civil Service – and there is much we can offer them back in return.
When the rest of us start thinking about going home in the evenings or at the weekends, reservists pick up their kit bag and prepare to carry on working. That’s quite a commitment and we owe them maximum support.
Quite simply, we want the Civil Service to be the very best employer of reservists, setting the standard for others to follow.
We now provide a minimum of 10 days additional paid special leave each year for reserve training and we are committed to providing better support before, during and after mobilisation.
We are also setting up a network of Reserve Champions across government to increase their visibility in the Civil Service and ensure our policies encourage and enable their role as a reservist, to the benefit both the armed forces and departments.
In the Civil Service we are exceptionally proud of our reservists: they serve the public in their day job, and their country in their reserve role. The fact that employment advisers, procurement officers, and policy officials are prepared to commit their spare time to training with the armed forces is testament to the commitment and public service ethos of civil servants.
What better time to celebrate the fantastic commitment and dedication of all of our reservists than Trafalgar Day.