Each year, on Remembrance Day, we pause to reflect on the men and women who served Canada and put their lives on the line for our freedom.
Canada’s military makes up a significant segment of our society. Combined, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces are the single largest public service employer, and Canada’s second largest employer overall.
But due to the unique challenges of their roles, many retire well below the statutory age of 60 (less than 1% of service members are aged 55 or above), meaning most will face the transition from military service into civilian working life.
Challenges Faced when Entering Civilian Working Life
Sean Smith, a Master Corporal with over 15 years of service, describes the challenges these veterans can face:
“The single biggest issue for veterans transitioning into the civilian business world is the transition itself,” he said.
“It’s difficult going from a regimented life, where there is a defined structure and routine, to a world where there are a thousand and one variables that are often completely out of your control.
“The military culture is so very different from that of the civilian world. Even something a simple as ‘what am I going to wear to work today?’ can be a hurdle, when your choice before was green, blue or navy blue. Even today, some 16 years after I retired, I still iron sharp creases in my shirts and pants, polish my shoes and rarely move without a purpose. It can be intimidating for co-workers, especially the rather ‘direct’ approach that newly released veterans tend to take.”
Business Resources Available to Veterans
As a veteran, you are not alone in this endeavour. There are several organisations dedicated to making the transition to business, entrepreneurship, and civilian life as smooth as possible. Below, we list the resources currently available to you.
This non-profit organization gives aspiring entrepreneurs the tools to start a career as a tradesperson. Apprenticeship and training opportunities are offered in the construction trade of your choice. Depending on your existing qualifications and experiences, the apprenticeship process can be shortened, or by-passed, to enable a fast-tracked achievement of journeyperson status. There are 14 applicable trade fields where full apprenticeship training is available.
A program of Prince’s Charities Canada, the official charitable office of HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur exists to help you with the education, training, tools, and resources you need to start and run a successful business. They host boot camps on four university campuses each summer, as well as 20+ free one-day workshops on bases across Canada.
This partnership between the Royal Canadian Legion and British Columbia Institute of Technology is designed to accelerate the civilian careers of veterans via a three pronged approach: Educational Credentials at BCIT, Entrepreneurial Training, and Job seeking assistance. If you have military experience in the Reserve Force, Regular Force, or National Guard, this program is a great opportunity.
Through their many branches and dedication to veterans, the Royal Canadian Legion is one of the better-known resources available. They provide help with every step of the transition, from physical and mental health, financial services, and job seeking assistance. If you’re a veteran who has retired within the last year, you are eligible for a free one-year Legion membership.
At Small Business BC, we offer a full suite of services aimed at helping you get your business idea off the ground. We provide education in the form of seminars and webinars, one-on-one business consultations with expert advisors, business registration services, and dozens of free checklists and tools designed to give you the best possible start in the world of entrepreneurship.
If you’re a veteran aged 18-39 looking to start your own business, Futurpreneur offers financing and mentorship via their Start Up Program. This consists of up to $45,000 in financing, an expert business mentor for up to two years, and resources that will help you plan, manage and grow your business.
Promote Your Small Business
As a forces veteran and a small business owner, there are several prominent business directories you’re entitled to be listed in.
Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur lists Canada’s most comprehensive online business directory dedicated to promoting veteran-owned business. It’s searchable by province and industry sector, offering an excellent way to get your business noticed.
Veteran Advance is a self-funded organization that aims to promote and advertise businesses owned by Canadian veterans and their spouses.
Want to Hire a Veteran?
As a small business owner, Canadian Service veterans represent a highly skilled pool of workers you could add to your workforce. Many websites exist to match you with these talented candidates.
Originally devised in 2012 with the Department of National Defence and Veteran Affairs Canada, The MET Program is an initiative designed to assist veterans in gaining employment in the civilian workforce. It lists over 250 Canadian companies that have signed up as partners committed to hiring veterans and reservists. Since the program’s inception, it has helped over 2,100 veterans and reservists find employment in the civilian workforce. Signing your company up is simple. To begin the process of becoming a partner company, simply email the MET Program Director at EPinfo@canadacompany.ca
The Government of Canada’s free, bilingual online jobs board offers a dedicated landing page for veterans and employers looking to hire veterans.