British Army
The Royal Welch Fusiliers mount helicopter borne Eagle VCP's (Vehicle Check Points) in 2004 Giles Penfound/British Army via Getty Images

The UK economy could lose up to £1.5bn ($1.9bn) over the next five years if Armed Forces veterans cannot find work or are underemployed after leaving the military, a study from Barclays said on Wednesday 19 July.

The research, based off the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) labour market surveys, calculated the direct and indirect contribution of the up to 85,000 personnel that are expected to leave the forces by 2021.

Barclays said more than one in five (22%) service leavers will face employment challenges, with businesses overlooking ex-military candidates and their valuable skills during the recruitment process.

Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, who served as an officer in the British Army, said: "I would be delighted to see businesses across the UK utilise the unique skills and experience of our ex-military service men and women, helping them to overcome the inevitable challenges that can come with returning to civilian life."

The study also found that around two thirds of employers are expected to experience deficits in soft skills within the next five years, with more than 600,000 jobs left unfilled.

Barclays argued that by deploying more ex-military personnel into civilian job roles, one in six of these vacancies could be filled, resulting in a contribution of £12.6bn to the UK economy.

Stuart Tootal, Head of the Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement (After) Programme, said: "This research reinforces how veterans can add real value to the commercial sector.

"Our ex-military men and women have a wealth of experience and valuable skill sets, and it is time that more employers took advantage of this."