Military spouses embody the types of skills and attributes required by today’s workers and sought after by employers, yet evidence suggests that due to the unique aspects of military life, such as relocation and separation, the employment and career development of military spouses is constrained and marked by unemployment, underemployment and career discontent.
Military spouse/partner employment and career development is a complex issue but there are a number of available solutions in the form of policy, employment opportunities, advocacy, education, and individual career readiness. Career development support is a powerful tool to empower people to live satisfying careers by helping them manage their careers in the context of personal characteristics and circumstances.
My Churchill Fellowship travel to the UK, USA and Canada in 2018 exposed me to a wide variety of career development support for military spouses. It also highlighted how similar the career development issues of military spouses are between the countries I visited. My report puts forward nine recommendations for improving not just ADF partner employment support but career support for military spouses around the world.
Recommendation One: Address ADF spouse career development as an essential element of ADF family support and an issue of concern in its own right.
Recommendation Two: Gather more qualitative and quantitative data on the ADF spouse population and undertake a career development and employment needs assessment.
Recommendation Three: Convene an ADF Spouse Employment Steering Committee of key stakeholders to agree on a shared vision and design a national ADF spouse employment and career development strategy and framework.
Recommendation Four: Encourage a collaborative effort from organisations across government, NFP and private sectors to improve military spouse employment and career outcomes, overseen by the Steering Committee.
Recommendation Five : Champion the business case for hiring military spouses, facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between ADF spouse job seekers and employers, and introduce ADF spouse hiring initiatives within companies.
Recommendation Six: Enhance and expand current services.
Recommendation Seven: Review how current Defence policies affect spouse employment and how current and future policies can be enhanced to offset negative effects on families including spouse employment.
Recommendation Eight: Adopt a whole-of-government approach to ADF spouse employment.
Recommendation Nine: Approach military spouse employment as a global issue as well as a national one.
Post-Fellowship projects have included: Australian Institute of Families Studies e-poster 2021; Meeting with the Minister for Defence Personnel 2019; Providing subject matter expertise to Defence Families of Australia 2018-2019; Career Development Association of Australia Conference presentation 2019; Keynote speaker Defence Families of Australia annual conference dinner 2018. For more about my post-Fellowship work please visit my Career Swag website.
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