MORE workers are to be encouraged to become military reservists under county council plans.
Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said he would be working with business leaders to make them see the benefits of employees becoming reservists.
He said: “Some small and medium sized businesses think people are taken away from them at the last minute and they lose that person.
“But you are given a good year’s notice about what’s going to happen, the employers get compensation and they are able to employ someone else in the meantime.
“The skills they learn as reservists outside the workplace give them something they can use.
“It is about promoting it, working with the reservists and talking to businesses. I will be talking about this with the local enterprise partnership.”
Local enterprise partnerships or LEPs are bodies set up by the government to cover regions of England and promote growth and job creation –with Oxfordshire having its own LEP.
He also said he would encourage council workers to sign up. The council would not reveal how many of its employees are reservists.
Mr Hudspeth was speaking after the county council’s military liaison report for 2013-14 – which sums up the work done to support service personnel living in Oxfordshire – was approved by full council. The report says: “The council already have plans in place for 2014/15 including some focussed work on reservists.
“Reinforcing our support to reservists will see increased activity as an employer of reservists and encouraging others to reap the benefits of employing reservists.”
The Ministry of Defence is currently implementing £10.6bn budget cuts which will lead to the number of regular soldiers being cut down from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020. Part of this gap will be plugged by a minimum of 11,000 extra reservists by 2018.
Oxfordshire is home to six military basis including RAF Brize Norton, RAF Benson, Bicester Garrison and Vauxhall Barracks.
There are more than 10,000 military personnel and almost 5,000 family members living and working in the county.
Bob Bradley, chairman of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “I think most modern employers understand that they want the best people on their team and the best people often have multiple interests, and being a reservist is something that can develop an individual.”
A spokesman from Oxford LEP said: “With bases at Brize Norton and Benson and a major logistics centre at Bicester, the Armed Forces have a significant presence in Oxfordshire which has important implications for infrastructure re-quirements. Reservists and former members of the armed forces have skills that can be highly beneficial to business.”
“Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, as a business led partnership that also brings in the universities, research centres, FE colleges and local government, is focussed on promoting the creation of private sector jobs. It is therefore keen to provide information about the Reservist Programme so that businesses in Oxfordshire can consider the extent to which they and their staff become involved.”
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