I joined the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) as a CFAV in 2012 as a civilian instructor with my local squadron, having been a cadet myself as a teenager. Currently I hold the rank of pilot officer and I am officer commanding 610 (City of Chester) squadron, where I put my management and leadership skills into practice to ensure the successful day to day running of the squadron, made up of 65 cadets and 11 staff members. I also work for the NHS.
I have worked in the NHS since 2016, when I started as a HR officer in Southport, supporting recruitment of staff in an acute hospital setting. Since then, I have progressed into my current role as recruitment team leader at Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, managing the recruitment function for the organisation.
I manage a team of four recruitment officers, which allows me to bring many skills from my cadet role into the NHS. I run recruitment training sessions for trust managers, and often have to give short presentations to various groups of people in the organisation, and my time as both a cadet and instructor has been invaluable to support this. I am confident in my own abilities thanks to the training I have received through the cadet forces and subsequently I have no reservations about standing up in front of a group of people and presenting to them.
I’ve received training that has helped me tremendously in my NHS career. The opportunities to gain further qualifications, such as Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) courses and adult teaching qualifications through accredited award bodies are fantastic, and for minimal cost too. I receive great support from my NHS employer for training, for example in 2019 I attended my officers initial course at RAF College Cranwell, and my employer was able to accommodate five days leave as they understood that this was a mandatory requirement in order to pass my probation period as a newly commissioned RAFAC officer, which I was very grateful for. I also benefit from flexible working, meaning I can start and finish earlier on the evenings that I attend my squadron.
During my time as a CFAV I have had the opportunity to gain qualifications, visit active RAF stations, take part in adventure training, learn new skills such as field craft, go on overseas trips to Normandy and so much more. I credit my time in the cadet forces, as both a cadet and a CFAV, with equipping me with the foundation skills and experience, and especially confidence, for me to be where I am today in life, as well as the skills I continue to develop and learn through my continued time with the cadet forces.
My trust can see the benefit of my dual role as a CFAV and the variety of skills and experiences that I develop particularly in terms of leadership. It is invaluable to the next generation of NHS workers for employers to see these benefits, so whichever element of healthcare young people choose to go into they can feel supported in undertaking dual roles. By understanding this current generation, we can begin to future proof the NHS workforce, by improving and creating the pathways we need and increasing the awareness of the different roles available within the NHS. Encouraging cadet forces into the NHS is something I am hoping to lead on within my trust through targeted recruitment with local youth organisations.
All employers should ensure they recognise the transferable skills that our Armed Forces veterans, reservists, spouses and CFAVs can bring to an organisation, and how valuable their past and current experiences can be to a role. A great way to show support to the Armed Forces community is to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant or include additional paid/unpaid leave for reservists and CFAVs to attend their training weeks or take cadets on camps during the year. By employers offering the support and additional time for employees to attend such commitments they get the benefits of paid training, development and retention of cadets and wider Armed Forces colleagues.
Find out more about how you can recruit, retain and support members of the Armed Forces community in your workforce on our dedicated web pages.