It is just over 18 months since I published my first report as Scottish Veterans Commissioner, Transition in Scotland. In that report I made much of the need to reverse a broader and destructive narrative that views veterans solely through the prism of need and obligation rather than recognising them for their strengths and attributes.
I was heartened by the response to that report - and a subsequent one I published on housing - and am buoyed by what I perceive to be an increasingly enlightened attitude towards the ex-military community. I do, though, consider that there is still some way to go and much more that needs to be done before veterans are fully utilised and appreciated for the valuable contribution that they can make to Scotland's communities and economy.
The area in which this can most powerfully and fruitfully be demonstrated is in employment. It, therefore, made obvious sense for my next report to look at the crucial issue of veterans' employability and to make recommendations that remove barriers to civilian employment, and promote the skills, experience and attributes of the veterans community more vigorously.
In looking at this wide-reaching and complex subject, it quickly became evident that issues relating to skills and learning are also inextricably linked. I have combined all three in this report and hope that it, thereby, provides a comprehensive and complementary set of recommendations and conclusions that will contribute to more and better job and learning opportunities for the veterans community across Scotland.
Structure of the report
The first three chapters cover the core subjects of 'Securing Employment', 'Qualifications and Skills' and 'Further and Higher Education'.
Chapter 4 covers two subjects that are fundamental to this agenda: how a changing military workforce in Scotland will impact on the next generation of veterans; and, the strategic leadership and governance that is essential to delivering meaningful change and sustained improvement in the future.
Chapter 5 combines a set of six case studies that highlight good practice and examples of the issues raised in this report. In my view, they bring real colour and life while providing pithy insights in a way that core text of a report can never achieve. I am particularly grateful to the contributors for providing such rich and relevant material.
Extracts from the case studies are included throughout the other chapters but I would still urge readers to take the time to look at the material in full.
Finally, Chapter 6 sets out my overall conclusions, which I hope provide a useful summary of what is a complex and wide-reaching agenda.