“If you’re out of the military, and weighing up your career options, it’s well worth considering health and safety. You might just surprise yourself!”
NEBOSH Case Study: Woodward SHE Ltd
NEBOSH spoke to Tom Duggan Senior from Woodward SHE Ltd, a Gold Learning Partner based in Cumbria, UK about its 30th year delivering NEBOSH courses.
Tom, 2023 is your 30th year delivering NEBOSH courses to both commercial and Ministry of Defence (MOD) leavers, what made you decide to branch out to MOD leavers?
I founded Woodward SHE Ltd. in 1992 and we’ve been involved in resettlement training since the get-go, working with privates, brigadiers, and all those in between.
It was whist delivering Management Training at Catterick Resettlement Centre for the Ministry of Defence [MOD], I was asked to deliver health and safety qualifications throughout the resettlement service at both Catterick and Aldershot Garrison.
We delivered the first NEBOSH National General Certificate resettlement course for service leavers at Catterick Garrison in March 1993. We still deliver courses at Catterick Garrison, but they are held “outside the wire” (offsite) now.
In the early nineties, service leavers faced slim pickings when it came to the job market. They might be directed to the police or roles in administration, but that was more or less it. At Woodward, we recognised the potential of service leavers to succeed in health and safety.
This is why we started working with NEBOSH; to give ex-service personnel the best chance of securing jobs in health and safety, equipping them with the qualifications, knowledge, and expertise required to begin their new careers.
What transferrable skills would you say that service leavers have that help them make great health and safety professionals?
The skills required to succeed in the military transfer impressively to those required to succeed in health and safety:
A penchant for protection
Health and safety professionals take a proactive, preventative approach to injury, accidents, and equipment failure. This explains why many who leave the Armed Forces have the passion to succeed in this field – after all, the role is primarily about inspiring groups of people to take a disciplined approach to avoid dangerous, potentially life-threatening situations. The parallels aren’t difficult to spot.
A systematic approach to work
Good health and safety professionals have the discipline to see their decisions through and develop effective routines and habits. For military men and women, discipline and commitment come as standard. Planning is also vital in health and safety, just like in the military. Getting it wrong can have huge consequences, it can even be the difference between life and death.
The ability to adapt
The old military adage, ‘no plan survives first contact’, is worth bearing in mind here. It means that those who have served in the Armed Forces have to be adaptable – their lives and the lives of others could depend on it.
A soldier who, on the battlefield, is able to analyse what’s going wrong and put it right, is clearly in good stead to apply this thinking, in the context of health and safety, in the workplace.
Communication, in particular verbal, is a skill that the military refine in their recruits. From meetings to high-pressure and fast-paced situations, service personnel must be able to communicate effectively with their comrades.
This is a skill that organisations truly value in their health and safety professionals. Those that can make a plan, solve a problem and resolve a conflict, all while communicating with the wider workforce, contribute immensely to the success of an organisation.
What are the benefits of transitioning into a career in health and safety?
It’s a highly rewarding profession that involves supporting health and wellbeing and keeping workers safe so they can return home to their loved ones. You could even save lives.
Forget the stereotypes – it’s not just about clipboards and hi-vis jackets. Health and safety professionals are fundamental to modern businesses and play a key part in preventing workplace injuries, ill-health and deaths by managing the day-to-day risks that workers face. They help organisations stay legally compliant as well as drive business processes and culture to create a sustainable, healthy and productive workforce.
Also, it’s never dull! A career in health and safety will present new challenges daily.
Can you tell us how Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) work and the benefits of using them?
The MOD’s Enhanced Learning Credits (ELC) Scheme promotes lifelong learning amongst members of the Armed Forces. Providing financial support in three separate financial years, the scheme enables service leavers to study a nationally recognised qualification at Level 3 or above with an ELCAS approved Learning Provider.
But what are the benefits? Historically, employers have been reluctant to employ former service personnel. Why? Well, one of the main sticking points was employers saying, “they don’t have any qualifications we recognise”.
By helping service personnel use their ELCs to achieve NEBOSH qualifications, we’ve given employers a clear way of measuring their capability. We’ve challenged stereotypes and outdated mindsets; giving the people we work with a new-found status and confidence to go into the job market.
What would you say to those thinking about leaving the MOD and considering a career in health and safety?
I really would say if you’re out of the military, and weighing up your career options, it’s well worth considering health and safety. You might just surprise yourself.
Originally published on the NEBOSH website here: https://www.nebosh.org.uk/our-news-and-events/case-studies/if-youre-out-of-the-military-and-weighing-up-your-career/