Members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) may be capable and competent during their time in service, but these skills don’t often easily translate to civilian life. As a result, unemployment for military veterans is exceptionally high. Data from the Veterans’ Employment Program in 2019 found there are currently 641,300 veterans in Australia, with one in three unemployed. Those who are employed on average receive 30% less than their previous position. Adding to this host of problems, 19% of veterans are underemployed for the skills and qualifications they have.

There are many different reasons for the high unemployment rate for military veterans:

  • Employers are not able to translate military work experience and qualifications into civilian terms
  • Disabilities or mental health stigmas
  • The need for licensing and official qualifications
  • Lack of certification for certain jobs

Many veterans have served in roles similar to civilian jobs, but their experience is often overlooked on their resumes. Most of them are unable to translate or describe their military experience into civilian terms. For instance, a former ADF member who specialises in visual information equipment operation is someone who is qualified to run video teleconferencing equipment. Employers are unable to understand such terms on a resume.

Lack of qualifications or training also plays a big part in unemployment for military veterans. Former ADF members may have the necessary skills for a range of tasks, but employers seek educational qualifications to recognise those capabilities. This makes it challenging for veterans to transition to regular employment from military service.

Higher education and further training can be a means to help reduce the unemployment problem for military veterans. With enough support, former ADF members can improve job prospects and expand their employment opportunities. Non-profit organisations are working closely with educational institutions and businesses to help veterans find opportunities to learn and translate their skills for civilian employment.