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Championing armed forces integration

Making the transition from military roles to civilian careers can often prove challenging. However, thanks to their vast range of unique expertise and disciplined work ethic, there are countless jobs veterans can thrive in as they seek to reintegrate into society. Here, Armed Forces Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Covenant holder Esh Group reveals how it is supporting the forces, ex-military personnel and the wider construction industry through various reintegration schemes.

“As a Gold Covenant holder, Esh is committed to setting an example for our industry, not only in supporting ex-services personnel but in helping our industry thrive too,” says HR director Chris Watson. 

She adds: “We’re undergoing a skills shortage in construction, and by working with the Careers Transition Partnership (CTP), we support people leaving military positions to pair them up with employment opportunities in areas they have experience or interest.”

In 2023, Esh launched a ‘Soldiers to Site’ transitioning programme with CTP, which sees service leavers encounter live construction sites or office-based roles for up to five days, to gauge the right career path opportunities.

It also offers trade/role specific training for an additional five days, for participants to experience their current military trade in a civilian environment. 

Through the Soldiers to Site programme, Esh’s social value team sits with service leavers to understand their career interests, looks at their CVs and puts them in touch with as many employers as possible through LinkedIn, as well as with recruitment specialists Corepeople.



Chris, pictured, above, says: “The programme is built around providing service leavers with access to positive destinations, whether that is working directly with Esh Group or through its supply chain, other construction firms or even another sector, utilising skills and qualifications gained on the programme.”

Among Esh’s ranks are employees from a range of military backgrounds. 

As a Royal Marines Reserve recruit, Simon Schofield works as a technical manager for Esh’s affordable housing division. 

As a recruit troop training instructor, he attends regular sessions to train the next generation of reserves, and says it wouldn’t be possible without the company’s support for military personnel.

He adds: “Esh’s commitment to the Armed Forces Gold Covenant has enabled me to fulfil my reservist duties without a financial hit or loss of holiday, thanks to the ten days of paid additional leave reservists receive as part of their employment package. 

“As a result, in October, I was able to conduct a two-week course at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, fulfilling the role of troop senior for our newest batch of recruits on their phase one course.”

Esh proactively supports local veteran charities through volunteering time and fundraising efforts. 

In particular, the firm works in partnership with veterans’ charity Launchpad on a number of initiatives, which include funding the creation of a sensory garden at the charity’s County Durham house, sponsoring the Combatting Veterans’ Homelessness Dinner, delivering employability sessions and arranging volunteer hikes for veterans. 

In March, several Esh employees – pictured at the top of this article – undertook an Army Business Challenge Day, at Albemarle Barracks, in Newcastle, to enhance their mental resilience, problem-solving, team-building and leadership skills, while learning about opportunities in the Army Reserves. 

Partnering with staff from Nexus, Esh’s team was victorious on the day.

Afterwards, two of the five attending signed up as reserves.

Curtis Layfield, a trainee quantity surveyor, says: “I used the Army Business Challenge as a way to learn new skills and test myself in a new environment. 

“It taught me about the possibilities as a reservist, which was extremely insightful. 

“I decided to sign up as a reserve as it allows me to enhance various skills like communication and discipline, and I’m thankful Esh has supported my decision and personal development through its commitment to the Armed Forces.”


  • Pictured, above, Steve Marshall, Esh Construction project manager, right, presents the player of the match award to UK Armed Forces’ Will Rigelsford at the recent Military vs Cancer Armed Forces event at Kingston Park


The Bowburn-headquartered firm recently supported Military vs Cancer’s second annual armed forces rugby event at Kingston Park, where, just ahead of Armed Forces Week, men’s and women’s military rugby teams took on select XV North of England sides. 

Contributing communications, design and event organisation support for the day, Esh helped raise vital funds for the charity, which brings together all three military services, businesses and people in industry to help support those who are battling with cancer, aiming to inspire people to live their lives to the fullest.

Chris adds: “We strive, across the company, to raise awareness around the importance of supporting reserves and ex-service personnel.

“We take a varied approach to fulfilling our commitments as a Gold Covenant holder, through training initiatives, charities and awards sponsorships, and would encourage more businesses to explore the opportunities it brings.” 

June 28, 2024

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