Atkins: Capitalising On Military Intelligence

Atkins is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies and the outstanding people that the company employs enable it to take on some of the most technically challenging and time critical projects.

Atkins draws those people from many walks of life, and has had considerable success employing service-leavers. In the words of Nick Roberts, the company’s UK and Europe CEO and a former British Army Reservist officer: “As an engineering consultancy, our people are our greatest asset and Atkins has long recognised the leadership, project management and technical skills that our Reservist and ex-military personnel bring which benefit both the company and our clients.”

In light of this, Atkins formalised its status as an Armed Forces friendly company when it signed the Military Corporate Covenant in November 2014. However, this was just the start of a push within Atkins to better cultivate, identify, support and engage with its Armed Forces staff.

Chris Jones joined the company in January 2015 having previously served as an RAF Air Commodore. As part of his new duties he was tasked with driving forward the commitments Atkins had made as part of its Corporate Covenant pledges.

Chris explained: “It’s been a year since Atkins signed the Corporate Covenant and were awarded one of the first Silver Defence Employer Recognition Scheme awards. Over the last twelve months we have worked hard to cultivate and engage with our community of Reservist staff and explore and develop partnerships across MOD, the Armed Forces and Defence.

“As part of this work, our UK Senior Leadership Team approved the creation of Atkins’ Partnering with the Armed Forces initiative – a dedicated programme of work to better coordinate our company-wide engagement and advocacy activities.”

Atkins’ Partnering with the Armed Forces’ programme encompasses a number of project streams including Armed Forces advocacy, improved HR support for Reservists and ex-Service personnel, recruitment of Service leavers, graduate and personal development and the UK Defence enterprise skills agenda.

Chris said: “Fundamentally, the programme represents a commitment at the highest levels of the company of resources, money, time and people to actively advance the pledges made in our Corporate Covenant. In recognition of the commitment made by our Reservists, this enhanced commitment also includes increasing the amount of paid time away from work we offer our Reservist staff for annual training purposes from five to ten days.”

A number of the programme’s elements are particularly relevant for service leavers, including:

• Creation of an Atkins Armed Forces champion – Atkins wanted to give its Armed Forces staff a spokesperson and internal champion. As a former RAF Regular, and having recently taken up service as an RAF Reservist, Chris was chosen to fill this important role.

• HR Support – It was essential to develop the policies, procedures and infrastructure that could not only capture, track and support a growing number of Reservist employees, but also provide the internal communication  network across a single Armed Forces community of interest.

• Recruitment of ex-Armed Forces Personnel – The programme would need to explore increased recruitment of veterans, making enhanced use of services like the Career Transition Partnership to attract appropriately skilled service leavers to Atkins.

• Advocacy of the Armed Forces – In order to demonstrate that Atkins is an Armed Forces friendly company, external marketing activity is key. However, further embedding a supportive culture internally is just as important and so the programme also needs to manage internal engagement with Atkins’ ex-Armed Forces employees and Reservist staff community to maximise skills and experience.

Chris continued: “With our Partnering programme set to formally launch in December 2015, our focus has been on Reserves and soft skills until now. However, we will now build on those foundations and expand our programme to include Service-leavers. A key element of this will involve the creation of an Armed Forces community. This will not only provide an internal, mutual support network but will also allow Atkins to identify and use the skills and expertise of Service-leavers to better inform business development and client delivery.”

Atkins’ continued support of, and advocacy for, the Armed Forces was recognised in November 2015 when the company was awarded a coveted Gold Defence Employer Recognition Scheme award by the MoD.

Nick Roberts said:
“Recipients of the Gold Defence Employer Recognition Scheme award are considered industry leaders and beacons of excellence for their employer support programmes. I could not be more proud that we have been recognised  by the MoD with this prestigious accolade.”

The company received the award for a number of reasons including the policies and support it has in place for its Reservist employees as well as its active promotion – internally and externally – of partnerships with the Armed Forces community. The positive and beneficial relationships that Atkins has developed extend across its sponsorship of Armed Forces charitable organisations including SSAFA, its close working with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Defence organisations, and its commitment to the national skills and Reserves agenda.

In order to build upon the endorsement of the Gold award, as well as to enshrine the commitments outlined in the company’s Partnering with the Armed Forces programme, Atkins has decided to reinforce and expand its Corporate Covenant voluntary pledges.

The company intends to continue to support the employment of Armed Forces leavers, young and old, by advertising company vacancies through the Career Transition Partnership. However, it will also develop a partnership  with Recovery Career Services and consider wounded, injured and sick veterans for any appropriate employment opportunities within Atkins. It will also commit to undertaking Corporate level charitable activity with veteran organisations, outside of wider marketing and client engagement activity.

The company will also support the creation of an inclusive Atkins Armed Forces network, comprising both Reservists and Armed Forces Veterans, to help offer support to its employees and their families, as well as to help identify key skills of use to the business.

And consideration is also being extended to Service families. Atkins will recognise the demands and pressures on Service families, particularly those caused through the requirements for mobility and the deployment of serving military personnel, whether Regular or Reserves.

There are a number of other voluntary pledges the company has made and these will all be publicly available once the MOD publishes Atkins’ revised commitments on the MoD’s Corporate Covenant website.

If you are interested in exploring career opportunities at Atkins, please visit:

In 2013 Atkins recognised a shortage in it testing division for railway signalling testers – an established shortage in the UK. Atkins, Network Rail and other partners committed to training new testers up and putting them  through a fast track scheme.

We identified military veterans as being good potential trainee candidates as they would have a lot of transferableskills – an understanding of the use of technical equipment, a familiarity with communications, training in safety awareness, a willingness to travel for the job and a pragmatic attitude. Our relationship with the MoD Career Transition Partnership (CTP) facilitated access to the rapid recruitment of ex-service personnel as railway signalling testers. The six month fast track training took the trainees from ‘no knowledge’ all the way to achieving their Functional Testers licence. Twenty of the 24 testers that were ultimately chosen were ex-Service personnel.