A new online platform goes live today that enables veterans of the armed forces and emergency services to offer their professional skills and trades to the public. Veterans Next Step (http://www.veteransnextstep.co.uk/ ) is pre-launching now to invite veterans to register with details of the professional services they offer. The full launch of Veterans Next Step will be in Spring 2018, when the public and local businesses will be able to search for the skilled people and services they need.

Darren Melia, founder and operations director, explained: "So many of Britain's fabulous armed forces and emergency services personnel learn skills that amount to more than just a job. For them it's a vocation, a career with training to the very highest standards, and with experience gained under the most demanding circumstances.

"When they leave the services, often with a long working life ahead of them, the next step for many is to set up their own businesses and offer their wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to the communities in which they settle. Veterans Next Step provides a great opportunity for them to showcase what they offer, and for their future customers to find them."

Veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and Fire & Rescue are invited to pitch their offers across more than 60 business sectors, whether they trade as, for example, builders, electricians or mechanics, or offer such services as computer repairs, bookkeeping or physiotherapy, to name just a few.

An example profile - of former Colour Sergeant Ste Talbot who now runs Lock Smart, a mobile locksmith business in Liverpool, and was part of the inspiration for Veterans Next Step - may be seen at http://www.veteransnextstep.co.uk/example-profile-page/ .

Darren Melia continued: "Veterans Next Step is a far cry from the standard local trades directory. We're entirely free to customers and our veterans don't pay any connection fees or commission. We simply put them in touch with each other. And we aren't just there to find a plumber or joiner but cover a very wide range of skills, trades and services, locally and nationwide."

Customers will also be able to leave rated reviews, giving feedback for the veterans and adding to their profile and knowledge bank.

Darren Melia added: "In the UK we're extremely proud of our services veterans who give so much without question and place themselves in danger to protect us. As they change careers, Veterans Next Step lets us all say thank you as we support them in building their professional businesses and benefit from their extraordinary levels of motivation and commitment."

Veterans are invited to register at http://www.veteransnextstep.co.uk/registration/ where a profile takes about ten minutes to complete. If they register before 1 May they will pay nothing for their first year apart from a £5 registration fee to cover admin costs.