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Support project empowers military spouses

Published: 25 July 2018 at 16:10

MoD employment support programme helps veterans transition

A new evaluation of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) trial by Anglia Ruskin University has shown the advantages of supporting spouses of service personnel.

The evaluation of the Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, reviewed how spouses progressed when given specific support to improve their chances of employment.

Key findings of the evaluation show the essential role of employment support in building spouses’ confidence – 78% of participants said their involvement in the trial had a positive impact on their lives. Additionally, spouses in the trial highly valued the training opportunities made accessible to them.

A set of key recommendations was produced from the evaluation, including acknowledging that the MoD continues to recognise spouses in their own right, the importance of continuing access to childcare and transport provision – particularly for those in remote areas – the provision of a training grant to spouses, as well as further employment training opportunities.

Matt Fossey, Director of the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research at Anglia Ruskin, said:  

“It is well documented that military spouses struggle in their careers as a result of frequent relocations, gaps in their CVs, and lack of affordable childcare. 

“This groundbreaking and illuminating research shows the unanticipated consequences of introducing initiatives that provide employment support for military spouses.  

“As well as the tangible employment-related benefits such as new skills, qualifications and confidence, military spouses felt that the Spouse Employment Support Trial was an extremely positive demonstration of the MoD’s commitment to the wider military family, thus improving spouses' feelings of self-worth and individual agency.”

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People, said:  

“The spouses and partners of our Armed Forces personnel are often the glue that holds a military family together, and it is important that they are truly valued and recognised for their role. 
“The findings and recommendations within this report will now be fully considered by the MOD as we continue to implement support for military families.”

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: 

“Our serving personnel lay their lives on the line to keep our country safe, and we have a duty to ensure that their spouses and partners, who play such a vital role in the Armed Forces community, receive the support they deserve.”

Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock CBE said:  

“When the Ministry of Defence announced that it was to undertake a trial of a Spouse Employment Support programme, we were gratified that one of the recurring themes of our evidence on transition, that service leavers whose spouses were already in employment tended to fare better, was being acted upon.

“The eight recommendations contained within the report are based on the learning gained and the wholly positive impact on the spouses who participated in the trial. We are looking forward to working with the MoD to build upon these recommendations.”

The support of service families is a priority for the MoD highlighted by the Armed Forces Families Strategy, launched in 2016. The strategy focuses on the link between equipping the families of serving personnel with the support and advice they need to prosper, and the delivery of operational capability. The removal of barriers to employment for spouses and partners of those in service is a priority of the strategy.

The Spouse Employment Support Trial seeks to aid spouses and partners to find employment that matches their skills, knowledge and experience, as well as their career aspirations.