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Meet the industry leaders assisting veterans find meaningful post-service employment

We spoke with Peter Spiridis, Operations Manager at Vertical Scope Group about the WorkPath Australia program that won them the 2021 RCSA Excellence in Social Purpose Award.

Vertical Scope Group was founded by our CEO, David Jam, with a clear mission to strengthen the Australian Defence industry’s workforce capability. Central to this vision was addressing the nation’s critical Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and cyber skills shortages, and the underutilisation of veterans.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic we launched an innovative end-to-end solution, a veteran transition program called WorkPath Australia. From the outset, David kept the program focused on achieving a meaningful social outcome for not just veterans, but the larger Defence industry, at a time when Australia was increasing its investment in our sovereign industrial capability.

This gave us the ability to create structured career pathways with veteran-friendly employers, and provide participants with access to free and paid-for training courses in order to increase their ability to capitalise on unique employment opportunities.

To ensure a seamless transition from the military, WorkPath Australia works with veterans up to 24 months out from their discharge to establish a career pathway that is aligned to their civilian aspirations.

The program is also underpinned by a support network of participants, training providers and Vertical Scope Group staff, to ensure regular pastoral care. This creates a support network for participants and establishes early relationships with employment partners in order to increase staff retention and diversity rates.

Since launching WorkPath Australia we have had four participants graduate the program and commence employment, while an additional seven have received a letter of offer from their employment partner.

They are currently undergoing professional upskilling and will commence civilian employment this year following their military discharge. To ensure a seamless transition we have also developed a comprehensive veteran transition guide and provided pro bono career planning and support services to over 40 veterans.

The program’s early success has been made possible by the incredible generosity, flexibility and foresight of our training and employment partners. We are privileged to have the support of several global ICT employers of choice, including Red Hat and their progressive leadership team of ANZ General Manager Max McLaren and Senior Manager Shane Wallace. Both of these individuals embraced the program from the outset and have worked with us to develop bespoke employment pathways, and provide free technical training and certifications to selected participants. Like all of our partners, they share a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and building a better foundation for careers in ICT.

Our training providers Churchill, ILX Group, Pro Leaders, and Transformed have also gone above and beyond to support participants with a suite of additional upskilling material and exclusive discounts.

Personally, it has been a huge pleasure to collaborate with passionate people like Leonie Orton (Churchill), Melissa King (ILX Group), Donna Kirk (Pro Leaders) and Kate Hassen (Transformed) to develop veteran transition resources. Their help has supplemented our employment pathways, and given participants the ability to continuously upskill throughout their career.

It is this joint approach to solving a common workforce challenge that sets us apart as an industry leader and the program’s ongoing development has been immensely satisfying for everyone at Vertical Scope Group. The commitment our partners have shown to achieving positive social outcomes has extended to WorkPath’s new Indigenous Australian ICT Pathway which aims to increase workforce diversity, equity and employment opportunities for Australia’s First Peoples. By creating tailored ICT pathways for Indigenous Australian participants, we will support their development and work with our employment partners to create culturally inclusive work environments and meaningful ICT employment.

The RCSA Excellence in Social Purpose Award is incredibly special to us. We are grateful for the RCSA and Charles Cameron for their support and endorsement of our program. It was an honour to be recognised during the 2021 Industry Awards as having a positive impact on our industry and in assisting veterans find meaningful post-service employment.

The award encapsulates the hard work we have put into making WorkPath successful, and the commitment shown by team members Ryan Naughton and our CEO, David Jam. It has given our program national recognition and drawn attention to the benefits of veteran employment while giving us a platform to create new ICT employment pathways for other underutilised groups including Indigenous Australians.

I’m excited by the program’s continual expansion, and the opportunity to have passionate people join us in our quest to improve social employment outcomes. The next step for us is to continue developing new employment pathways beyond ICT and collaborate with more industry leaders to achieve this.

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