A new initiative bringing Chambers of Commerce and military units closer together has launched.
The ChamberFORCE programme is a partnership between five Scottish Chambers of Commerce supported by Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (HRFCA), and personnel from the Army, Royal Navy and RAF Reserves.
Each Chamber has been assigned its own special 'buddy' and the partners will work together to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
Chambers members will be able to access a range of benefits such as help with recruiting highly skilled ex-military personnel, access to exclusive networking and briefing events, and a range of free leadership and staff development opportunities such as Exercise Executive Stretch and Exercise Mini-Stretch, both of which proved hugely popular this year.
This week also saw Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, which pledged its support to the Armed Forces by signing a Covenant last year, receive a Bronze Award in recognition of its commitment.
Chamber chief executive Russell Borthwick said: “As an organisation we are committed to creating a wide range of employment opportunities and recognise the value the highly-skilled and experienced members of the Armed Forces can bring to a workforce. We are delighted to have received our Bronze Award and pleased to be part of ChamberForce. We will continue to give the initiative our full support.”
Michelle McKearnon, regional employer engagement director for HRFCA and a former CEO of Chambers of Commerce, said: “There was already a very strong relationship between Chambers and the military but we wanted to streamline it and make it more productive for all involved. It is important that the defence establishment recognises the vital role Chambers play in the business community, and that we give something back to all the employers who support our people. ChamberFORCE harnesses the power of the Chamber network and the resources available to businesses from the military, so it is a win-win situation.”
Tim Allan, president of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The launch of ChamberFORCE comes at a critical time for business and will act as an important enabler to showcase the talents and skills of those with military experience. With many sectors and companies continuing to cite recruitment challenges and skills shortages as a barrier to growth, ChamberFORCE is an excellent example of how partnership working can tackle the big challenges facing our economy.
“Leadership, agility, resilience and adaptiveness are just some of the attributes that businesses need in a fast-moving economy and I look forward to supporting ChamberFORCE as we unlock these talents and grow Scotland’s economy.”
ChamberFORCE has also been widely welcomed by the military personnel involved.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Sheldrick, Commanding Officer of 7SCOTS, said: “7SCOTS is privileged and delighted to be involved in ChamberFORCE.
“Our Army Reserve men and women are ‘citizen soldiers’ who live and work in the local communities alongside their civilian counterparts; employers, work colleagues, family and friends.
“It is important that there is an open and honest relationship between the Reservist and their employer, and that employers are aware of the range of benefits of employing a member of the Reserve Forces and the many and varied hard and soft transferable skills which they learn and develop during their Reserve training, and take back to the workplace at no cost whatsoever to the employer.
“ChamberFORCE will present a unique opportunity for Chambers and 7SCOTS to work together to maximise ‘Business skills in Reserve’.