Jaguar Land Rover has announced that it aims to increase the number of ex-service men and women employed across its global operations to 1000 by 2020, a five-fold increase on recruitment since 2013.

The iconic British marque first signed the Armed Forces Covenant in July 2014 – a written and publicised voluntary pledge from businesses and charities who demonstrate support for the Armed Forces community.

The company says it has ambitions to become a preferred employer for servicemen and women seeking post-military career opportunities and that the skills and talents of people who have served in the forces will enable it to deliver long-term sustainable growth.

As the UK’s largest automotive manufacturer and a growing global business, we have an obligation to advance the skills and capability of the industry, and in doing so, provide opportunities for passionate people to unleash their full potential. That is why we are making it our mission to see the number of people recruited into our business from the military increase significantly in the coming years,” said Ian Harnett, Executive Director of Human Resources at Jaguar Land Rover.

A significant step in realising its targets is the introduction of a new program to train and recruit up to 180 veterans across the company’s North American retail network. The initiative has been co-developed with CALIBRE Systems Inc, a US based management consulting firm, and is the first major military program for the company outside the UK.

Since 2015 more than 30 service personnel have participated in the ‘Inspiring Tomorrow’s Workforce’ and ‘Wounded, Injured and Sick’ (WIS) programs with 75 per cent of these finding roles at Jaguar Land Rover. Many others have gone on to find jobs in the company’s supply chain and wider industry.

One such recruit is Luke Darlington, who served with 42 Commando, Royal Marines and suffered multiple serious injuries whilst on tour in Afghanistan. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) caused a severe shrapnel wound to his brain and he went through months of strenuous rehabilitation before joining the WIS program in November 2015.

“I was at home and feeling very depressed as I was not achieving anything in my day to day life,” he said. “The WIS program allowed me to develop new skills and re-ignite old ones which I had used in the military. I had not appreciated just how relevant experience in the Royal Marines could be to an automotive company. Since completing my training with Jaguar Land Rover my confidence has grown. I feel worthwhile again.”

Luke spent ten weeks on the program on the Land Rover Defender production line and four in other functions across the business. Impressed with his efforts, he was offered him a permanent position as Production Leader in Europe’s largest aluminum body shop at the Solihull manufacturing plant.

“The sense of achievement of being offered the job was fantastic, I felt like I belonged again,” he said. “I had a sense of pride and purpose which was missing from my life, something I thought I was never going to get back once I left the Marines.”