Why ex-Service men and women can help fill your digital skills gap

Posted on Monday, May 1, 2023 by Faye CoppNo comments

Brigadier (Retired) Andrew Jackson

The cyber security industry is thriving but growth is constrained by the well known - and growing - skills gap. {1} It is clear that current solutions are either simply not working or are failing to keep up with demand.   

A pool of around 1million UK ex-military personnel of working age is topped up by a further 20,000 regular or reservist Service leavers per annum. With their sharp decision-making skills, security mindsets and risk and crisis management experience, this community is well suited – and well-equipped to fill roles in this booming industry and help close the widening skills gap. 

To me, there are 3 barriers that prevent military people from employment in cyber jobs, at least 2 of which are not even addressed by current solutions:

  • Visibility of opportunities and understanding by ex-military jobseekers of the relevance - of their highly transferable - military security skills and experience, especially to cyber security. Most think that cyber is a job for the techies; a perception compounded by some often impenetrable language.

  • Realigning or improving their military security skills and gaining the requisite skills to succeed

  • Commercial experience. The first line of every job description that requires a minimum experience requirement excludes most from the military community at the very start of the recruitment process.

These barriers require effort by both employers and jobseekers to overcome. Hiring managers regurgitating the same old job description and demanding that their HR teams find people to fit their exacting requirements is not good enough at the best of times, never-mind when talent is in short supply. In a recent engagement with a prospective client, they shared a job description for a ‘business critical’ role listing no less than 22 essential requirements; no better way to put off any candidate, let alone those from the Armed Forces who already feel at a disadvantage to those with commercial experience.

So we need to do innovation, not just talk about it, and be prepared to invest in programmes to attract, train, qualify and provide sufficient experience to encourage and enable people from the Armed Forces community their battle to break into the cyber sector.

SaluteMyJob partners with employers to deliver pipelines of talent from the Armed Forces community into roles where employers face shortages of skilled talent, with a particular focus on:

  • Cyber Security Operations, including incident management

  • Security Consulting and risk management

  • Network Security Engineer


UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021


  1. Security Mindset

Ex-military personnel have extensive military security and risk management training and experience. They have applied these skills in the most challenging situations and start their planning with security as the first priority, not an afterthought. . With cyber warfare on the rise, there is also a growing number of individuals within the Armed Forces that have been specially trained in threat intelligence, risk management, compliance and cyber security, who are ready-trained to join the civilian cyber battlespace.

  1. Adaptability

Military veterans are used to regularly adapting to different roles, new teams and different responsibilities. As a result, they are highly motivated, adaptable and quick to learn. They also know that, however through the planning, ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, so their flexibility in execution, and in a crisis, is a skill developed and tested in fast paced and ambiguous situations. Such breadth of experience is unrivalled and makes them highly employable in the commercial world.  

  1. Cross-Functional Soft Skills

Organisations that employ veterans report that they exhibit much needed cross-functional skills, notably team-working, motivating others, powers of communication, problem-solving, organisational skills and strategic thinking. {2}

  1. Teams Skills

Whether a team member or team leader, veterans offer proven team skills, with increasing responsibilities placed on them as they progress through the ranks. These skills, experience in managing risks, the ‘mission focussed’ ability to get things done are all key proficiencies that make ex-military personnel contributors and leaders you will want in your organisation. 

  1. Working under pressure

Front-line roles in cyber incident management need people who can be trusted to deal with high-pressure situations quickly and effectively. Ex-military personnel are accustomed to working in highly pressurised operational environments, and know how to act decisively and calmly, a skill gained from experience of working across geographies and diverse environments.



Read Men’s Story

British Army Veteran, Men Gurung, is an inspiring example of how transferable military skills have added huge value to an organisation. Although only early into his cyber career, he has already been shortlisted for an award in the Scottish Ex-Forces in Business Awards. Men upskilled on SaluteMyJob and IBM’s SkillsBuild free online training platform and has landed himself a job at IBM. You can read about his employment journey here.



As the continuing shortage of skilled people to fill digital and cyber roles in the UK continues to grow, our innovative new cyber career jumpstart programme endeavouring to close these skills gaps using the military talent pool. The DCMS funded programme is running in partnership with IBM, Hirevue and SHL and aims to attract and train over 100 veterans, reservists and military spouses with sought-after digital skills by December 2022. We will be working closely with forces-friendly employers to help them qualify and find cyber security work placements and employment opportunities. Read more about our free cyber security training courses for veterans and the Armed Forces community here. And for more detail about the Cyber Career Jumpstart Programme, learn more here.

Sign up below to sign up as an employer partner as part of our Cyber Jumpstart Programme.


{1} A report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, found that 37% of cyber jobs were reported as ‘hard to fill’ most commonly due to candidates lacking technical skills or knowledge, with 680,000 businesses stating they have a basic skills gap.

{2} Veterans Work, a report by Deloitte, found many of the skills that veterans possess are in areas where organisations are experiencing gaps – for instance around a third of the medium and large organisations we surveyed have skills gaps in strategic management, managing and motivating staff, team-working, positive attitude and listening skills.

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