Independent tech consultancy Opencast has formalised its close relationship with
the UK’s armed forces community.
The company has signed the Ministry of Defence-backed Armed Forces Covenant,
confirming its commitment to serving military personnel, former servicemen and
women and reservists.
In a signing ceremony at 101 (Northumbrian) Regiment’s Napier Armoury in
Gateshead last week, Opencast’s chief people officer Cate Kalson and client
relationship director Richard Handley joined army top brass from the region,
including honorary colonel Ammar Mirza CBE, alongside other army representatives.
As well as signing the covenant, this summer Opencast was recognised by the
government-backed Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS), acknowledging businesses
that "have provided exceptional support to the armed forces community and
defence by going above and beyond their covenant pledges.”
The three-tier ERS approach of bronze, silver and gold awards recognises the levels
of commitment to the covenant pledges and beyond provided by employers – and
allows the MoD publicly to thank and honour those businesses for their support.
Opencast has initially been granted bronze accreditation under the ERS – and is now
seeking to step up to silver then gold accreditation.
Welcoming Opencast’s commitment, Ammar said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is a
voluntary pledge made by employers to demonstrate their appreciation of the
significant and sustained contribution of our armed forces.
“Whether it be cadets, regular, reserves or veterans, the North of England
contributes more personnel than any other area. That is why it is wonderful to see
fellow North East-based companies like Opencast signing up, recognising the skills
developed and positive attitude that accompany every member of our armed forces.
“Following the example of this leading values-driven organisation, I hope that others
in and beyond the North East will be encouraged to get involved and support our
Newcastle-headquartered Opencast’s commitment to the armed forces was driven
by the arrival to the business this year of Richard, formerly a captain in the Royal
Regiment of Artillery.
Commenting on the signing, Richard said: “We want Opencast to be a leading light in
the community as a forces-friendly employer. The values and ambitions of Opencast align to the Armed Forces Covenant, as well as a commitment to the ERS – and we are aiming for the gold award.
“Opencast is committed to ensuring the company does more to help those who are
serving and have served. We are always on the look-out for great people and there is
a constant pipeline of talent leaving the armed forces. Many of them are
enthusiastic, tech-savvy soldiers wanting to build a second career.”
He added: “Soldiers very often have the right attitudes, skills and discipline to fit
straight into an agile team – it’s the way we train, even if we didn’t use the same
terminology. These people can be our tech wizards of the future.”
The company’s chief people officer Cate Kalson said: “Opencast is a caring employer
that is always looking to give something back. Our pledge and commitment are a
part of this. Who better to support than those who have served their country and
those that continue to serve as reservists?
“I’d like Opencast to help service personnel bring their skills and mindset from the
armed forces into exciting, meaningful technology careers.”
Cate added: “Opencast is firmly behind plans to help and support former servicemen
and women and reservists. This is part of our wider commitment to making an
impact on the region and its people. It’s fantastic to have met the leadership team at
101 (Northumbrian) Regiment and started to build real links between our
Opencast revealed an ambitious plan earlier this year to employ 500 people by 2025
to enable the company to tackle ever larger and more complex client challenges. The
team is now nearly 200 strong.
Joining forces (left to right): Richard Handley (Opencast client relationship director), Lt Col Peter Winton (commanding officer, 101 Regiment Royal Artillery, Lee Kennedy (regimental sergeant major, 101 Regiment), Cate Kalson (Opencast chief people officer) and Ammar Mirza CBE (honorary colonel, 101 Regiment) at the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant at Napier Armoury in Gateshead on 8 December 2021.