I had occasion recently to discuss the worth of the Limited Service Volunteer scheme with a serving officer who was closely involved with the programme.
For those who are not up with the play, the scheme revolves around a six week residential course run by the military for young persons aged between 18 and 25 who have been on a benefit for six months or more. It teaches basic life skills in a controlled environment. Since 2008 the Government has beefed up the scheme with an additional 7,000 places on offer in the belief that it helps young people turn their lives around.
I had, quite frankly, expected a low level of enthusiasm for the scheme from the officer I spoke to ... after-all, it is a couple of steps removed from what he signed up for and might have been considered a dead-end type posting.
I was wrong. He said it was a posting he looked back on with pride and was one of the most enjoyable he had .... watching young adults with low levels of esteem grow and mature and start believing in themselves to the point that when they graduated they had something positive to offer prospective employers.
Having experienced a taste of service life some end up seeking to make a career in the military and that is well and good but my understanding is that a significant number of graduates move into general paid employment within six months. That being the case it is money well spent.
Employers should be encouraged by the success of the scheme. I note too there is an incentive for employing such people under the Government's Job Streams programme.