It’s been really good to come back to Staffs. It’s been busy alongside a primary job but the RAF is great at letting people get away and do their educational studies. It’s definitely manageable and has kept me thinking.
A Royal Air Force officer, who made the decision to study with Staffordshire University whilst based in war-torn Afghanistan, has studied a model to attract more recruits to the military.
Flight Lieutenant Ben Roberts, who is based at Royal Air Force (RAF) Boulmer in Northumberland, has achieved a distinction studying part-time on the MBA course alongside his day-job as Surveillance Officer in the Aerospace Battle Management (ABM) branch of the RAF.
“I was actually sat in the middle of Kabul when I decided it would be a good idea to do something extra outside of work. I found some material about the MOD MBA scheme and thought it would be a good avenue to take to bolster my future.”
The MBA course offers members of HM Forces the option to study via distance learning, using the Virtual Learning Environment, over a maximum of five years and their studies may be put on hold when serving out-of-area or because of a change of circumstances.
Ben graduated from Staffordshire University 10 years ago with Bsc (Hons) Film Production Technology and has been with the RAF ever since.
“It’s been really good to come back to Staffs. It’s been busy alongside a primary job but the RAF is great at letting people get away and do their educational studies. It’s definitely manageable and has kept me thinking.”
For his dissertation, Ben looked at the relatively new theory of employer branding and explored the key drivers that could help to improve recruitment within the military, focussing on the Aerospace Battle Management branch of the RAF in which he works.
“There are two main types of employer branding – functional branding which promotes things like pay, and symbolic branding which represents things like the pride that people gain from their job.”
Those tasked with managing recruitment to the ABM branch, prospective RAF candidates and new recruits were all questioned for the research.
“I found that the current focus of ABM branding was intently on functional attributes and factual information; what recruits will be paid, the medical facilities and the gym equipment available etc; but my research found that most of the candidates and recruits join because of the adventure and pride in serving their country, so I concluded that symbolic/emotive employer branding could have a place in promoting the ABM branch.”
“I found that, unfortunately, not many people know much about the ABM branch, so I believe our brand as an employer had room to improve. The branch is at the spearhead of defending the UK’s skies and that’s something that we should be promoting to attract recruits as it can directly appeal to people’s aspiration for pride and purpose in service within their careers.”
Ben has provided his findings to his senior leadership within the ABM branch, and they are looking at taking on some of his suggestions.
More information about HM Forces courses offered by Staffordshire University can be found here.
· Aerospace Battle Managers are Britain’s front line of air defence; they are the RAF’s ‘Airspace Guardians’. There are three specialisations within the Aerospace Battle Management Branch: Surveillance officers, Weapons Controllers and Space Specialists. In the UK, ABMs ensure that all aircraft are identified and ensure a timely response to potential threats, both military and civilian, by directing an intercept by Quick Reaction Alert aircraft. Overseas, they command and control the air battle and manage airspace so that fast jets, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles and the Royal Artillery can achieve their mission.