Airbus supporting the Armed Forces
As a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies, Airbus understands the importance its industry plays in supporting the UK’s defence sector.
With a global workforce of around 134,000 working in Airbus Commercial Aircraft, Defence & Space and Helicopters divisions, the company’s UK operations involves more than 14,000 people working across 20 sites spanning all three divisions. In 2017, the UK’s Airbus was one of 33 companies to achieve the ERS Gold. The award recognises employers that are supporting the Armed Forces and making a real difference to the lives of those who serve and their families.
In collaboration with a number of service charities, Airbus has delivered a number of schemes which are dedicated to supporting veterans, service leavers, the wounded, injured and sick, in addition to military spouses and partners. Initiatives have included working in partnership with recruitment agencies to offer employment and coaching to military spouses along with work experience transition placements for service leavers and the wounded. To date the schemes have been informal however work is currently taking place to formalise some of the activities. It is hoped this will lead to outcomes such as military personnel completing work placements with Airbus during which time they will work on specific business problems which will utilise the extensive skills and expertise military personnel bring to the table. The plan is for a specific process to be launched within Airbus’ UK sites so all parts of the business can submit a request for support from military personnel on projects.
Force Friendly Facilities
With more than 20 sites in the UK, a number of Airbus facilities are in high demand from visitors particularly sites such as Broughton where all the wings for commercial aircraft are made, and Stevenage’s Defence & Space site which is home to MARS Rover and an impressive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Centre. Understandably, access to sites is closely controlled and visits are not always possible but requests from groups such as local cadet units and squadrons are always highly ranked and in some locations, there is a specific programme of visits underway which is dedicated to hosting Armed Forces groups on a regular basis. This is really starting to gather pace and the ambition is for this to be a standard approach on appropriate UK Airbus sites.
People are at the heart of Airbus’ business and the company takes great pride in celebrating the achievements of its employees. This has led to a number of internal and external communication campaigns which showcase Reservists and Veterans, giving the audience an insight into the fantastic work they have done or do away from the workplace. The communications are always well received attracting comments of support and many “likes” and “shares” across social media platforms. Annual events such as Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Day provide the perfect opportunity to run the campaigns and in 2019, a Remembrance Day service which started life on one site a number of years ago is expected to be adopted by a number of other Airbus UK locations. Employees who are Reservists or Veterans will be encouraged to attend wearing their uniforms and medals. The ceremonies will feature a short reading and time for reflection and remembrance in honour of those who have lost their lives in conflict.
Airbus’ recognition work does not end at communication. As a proud signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant, Airbus ensures its Armed Forces community members are not only treated with the fairness and respect they deserve but that they are also celebrated and recognised. From a Human Resources policy perspective, this includes up to 10 days paid leave, and an additional 5 days unpaid leave, to attend military training camps in any one year for Reservists. In addition, the company is always looking for opportunities which represent small tokens of thanks for example in 2018, the organisation’s military-related employees were invited to Farnborough International Airshow to be part of a special event to mark the re-signing of the Armed Forces Covenant, which is signed every two years. The event attracted a number of high ranking Armed Forces officials and a platform for Airbus to send a clear message of support for the military to the wider aviation industry.
Looking to the Future
In October 2019 it will be two years since Airbus collected its Gold Award and its commitment to building on the success of that accolade is as strong as ever. An Armed Forces Ambassador network designed to connect Airbus’ Reservists and ex-services employees across the country is established and its members have ambitious plans to increase in number and impact. First up, the network will focus on recruiting more support and plans for information roadshows at Airbus sites in locations such as Portsmouth, Filton, Broughton and Stevenage are in the pipeline. This is just one of a series of actions captured in an annual action plan which is led by an Armed Forces Steering Committee. The plan includes sections such as Advocacy and its overarching aim is to provide support to all military personnel from spouses and the sick to cadet volunteers and cadet forces.