Portsmouth has a long and proud military history. It’s a near neighbour of some of NATS’ main sites, notably our Swanwick Centre which is still unique in the world in having military and civil ATC working alongside each other. Many of our colleagues are part of the Armed Forces community, from Veterans to Reservists to adult cadet volunteers, mirroring a similar community that can be found throughout Portsmouth. Because of that, NATS has been a member of the Armed Forces Covenant since 2015, which means that we have pledged to support employees who are part of the Forces community.
We were extremely proud to be recognised for this commitment at the ‘Shaping Portsmouth’ conference, where we were presented with the ‘Armed Forces Covenant Award’. Shaping Portsmouth, a not-for-profit organisation that works with businesses in and around Portsmouth, introduced the award to recognise the business that had done the most to meet the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant and chose NATS as the winner because of our commitment to increasing awareness of our military community.
Some of our recent campaigns during Armed Forces Week and Remembrance, both key fixtures in the NATS calendar, have shared the stories of cadet force adult volunteers (CFAVs) and Reservists, and highlighted the close relationship between NATS and 78 Squadron, the military unit based at Swanwick. Wing Commander Miller, Officer Commanding 78 Sqn, took part in a fascinating episode of our ‘Altitude’ webcast last year during which she explained how this cooperation works, and gave a stimulating account of how they work with civilian controllers to rapidly clear a path in UK airspace for ‘Quick Reaction’ fighter jets that are scrambled to respond to threats.
In addition to raising awareness, we’ve also increased training leave for CFAVs and Reservists which can be used to attend annual training activities and, occasionally, operational deployments – NATS staff were deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Telic, for example. Our Peer Support welfare services have also been expanded to include individuals who have first-hand experience of Armed Forces life, which is invaluable in providing the right support in difficult times.
We recognise the strengths that all our employees bring to the business, no matter what their background, but we do appreciate the tremendous benefits that alignment with the Armed Forces plays in broadening our workforce.
All those from the Forces community bring a wealth of transferable skills and qualities to the civilian workplace, which is all the richer as a result of their experience. We’re proud to be members of the Armed Forces Covenant, and we’re proud to support those who serve.
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