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PJ Farr - UK Connect
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“Skilling the Nation Through the Armed Forces Community”

MoD Employment Forum – alongside the Invictus UK Trials Sheffield 23rd July 2019


I was delighted that X-Forces Enterprise were asked to represent self-employment at the Employment Forum and to be accompanied by XFE beneficiary PJ Farr, founder and CEO of UK Connect.

This photo with PJ and Lieutenant General Nugee CVO CBE, Chief of Defence Personnel, speaks volumes about the positive societal and economic impact achieved through the Armed Forces family supporting each other, during service and after.

For PJ it started with quality skills and technical training gained throughout his time in service. PJ’s transformation post service into successful businessman and employer was achieved with the help of a handrail of ongoing transition support which XFE is proud to have provided.

The societal and economic benefit that former and current members of the armed forces contribute through employment and self-employment was the focus of the MoD’s Employment Forum and Jobs Fair.

This benefit is illustrated in The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) “A Force For Business” policy report June 2016 which XFE supported, and which highlights the following key benefits of employing service leavers:

  • Resolving skills shortages
  • Improved Team Performance
  • Providing a fresh perspective and creative ideas
  • Improved customer relationships
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Boosting existing workforce morale


Here are just some of the inspiring words we heard from

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence Personnel, MoD:

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence Personnel, MoD Employment Forum Sheffield



“We train our people all of the time. In the army we say there are 3 things we do: Fight, Train, Sleep. We train leadership skills – both how to lead and as importantly, how to be led – technical know-how, and we instil core values. What organisation couldn’t benefit from that?”  

“Veterans learn how to deal with trauma, to evaluate their revised circumstances including physical or mental changes and work out how best to deal with that change. That is the spirit of Invictus. Everyone should want to work with these amazing people!”

On the subject of Reservists, of which I am a proud member, he went on to say “Churchill said that Reservists are twice the Citizen. I no longer think that’s right. I think they are the modern citizen.  They perform in work and have a point of reference outside of work that they can draw on, continually equipping them for life.”

I concur completely with this as a reservist myself.








PJ Farr, Founder and CEO UK Connect


A former Princess of Wales Regiment soldier, PJ started his business in 2013, combining the know-how and technical skills acquired during service. With business mentoring and micro-finance support from XFE in just 6 years his business, UK Connect, is now a multi-million-pound industry-leading company, employing other former members of the military family. In PJ’s own words:

“I had the technical capabilities and confidence, but only £1200 saved and no idea about what’s involved in running a business. Things like VAT and “carbon footprints” meant nothing to me!

…XFE provided the tools I needed; access to funding, training and mentoring. My mentor also had a military background. They could talk my language…

Interviewing ex-service people is easy for me. I already know they have the right values. I just focus on the technical elements.”



Panel Discussion


MoD Employment Forum Sheffield

I was delighted to join the panel discussion to explore themes raised during the morning’s presentations. These included:

Telling the world about service leavers skills and capability

  • A common theme was that highly sought-after knowledge and technical skills possessed by service-leavers can often be played down, misunderstood or unintentionally under-sold on CVs and during interview. We can all do more to spread the word about the industry-leading,  valuable skills service leavers possess. This can be done through training, coaching, external communications and helpful tools such as CV “translation” services.
  • It’s a challenge that together we can fix and XFE are proud to have provided over 27,000 training hours to service leavers as official partner to the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and in collaboration with military charity partners.


The need for ongoing support:

  • For some service leavers, transition can be more than a one step process. Sometimes a further evaluation and alignment of work and life goals needs to take place following time in a new role. The panel recognised that providing an on-going handrail of support is important to assist the service leaver. Knowledge of their journeys can further help inform future CTP support strategy. One of the challenges faced is maintaining the connection with the individual.
  • I was pleased to confirm that XFE beneficiaries are eligible to access an ongoing mentoring handrail, designed to provide support with key decisions and know-how. XFE’s aim is to help people decide what is best for them and – just as importantly – to discover their “red-lines” and therefore, what they should definitely not do.



Forces Families Federation:

MoD Employment Forum Sheffield


All members of the Armed Forces family are role models for the ethos and can-do capability of the Armed Forces community. It was fantastic to catch up with the Forces Families Federation and hear their plans for the launch of the Forces Families Jobs website; a central portal for employment and training opportunities for spouses, partners and family members.


29% of XFE beneficiaries are women – 5 times higher than the national average


I’m proud to say that through working collaboratively with many stakeholders such as the Forces Families Federations, women make up 29% of XFE beneficiaries. In comparison, the UK’s total early stage entrepreneurial activity, including the owning or running of any business that is less than three and a half years old is 5.3% for women. Source: Global Economic Monitor. XFE can’t wait to support the Forces Families Jobs website launch and further support this amazing pool of talent.





Some more Golden quotes from the day:

And if we needed any further convincing of the positive attributes that former members of the armed forces bring to the work place, here are snippets from just some of the day’s contributors:


James Cameron CEO Mission Motorsport

“Automotive companies are adapting for the future and need highly technically capable people to work for them. Armed Forces veterans are right on point to deliver this capability”



Matthew Weston, Barclays AFTER Project Manager

“See beyond the disability. It only requires flexibility. I am an example of someone who has had to adapt as a result of injury. Disabled people just need to do things differently; they are great at adapting and overcoming. That’s great for the whole workforce”



On the important subject of inclusivity, I think it is fitting to end with these words from Brigadier Fred Hargreaves, Deputy Director Invictus Games Delegation, MoD:

“We are all aware of the need for and benefits of inclusivity these days and the need to take positive steps to include others. The Invictus Employment Fair is also about addressing that principle for those who have physical and mental injuries or illnesses. What we can be sure of from the spirit of Invictus, is that all of these people have a lot to contribute”




And finally, the XFE team had a great time meeting delegates at the Jobs Fair the following day.

XFE provide the support service leavers need to decide if entrepreneurship is right for them or help equip those going into the business world as an employee. Click here to find out more.

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