DETERMINATION, positivity and flexibility are the key to making work “work” for employed Army spouses and partners and their families, according to a recent survey by the Army Families Federation (AFF).

More than 650 working spouses and partners took part in the military charity’s employment-focused survey, which showed that the majority of respondents were in administration or secretarial work. Teaching and education, health and charity were also highly-ranked professions.

The majority of working spouses/partners who took part felt working is worthwhile – not just for financial reasons but also for a sense of identity and independence. However, they do face some significant challenges.

Support from soldier influential

AFF was concerned to learn that 39 per cent of respondents said their soldier’s workload or hours mean they are unable to help with childcare responsibilities, even on an occasional basis. This was more apparent in spouses of other-rank soldiers.

One spouse told the charity: “I have taken a lesser paid job that means I do not have to rely on my husband’s help as he is rarely able to help me with school runs.”

Unsurprisingly, those who said their soldier was able to offer support felt more strongly that working was “worth it”.

Challenges in maintaining employment

The top four challenges identified by working Army spouses and partners were:

  • Cost of childcare (55 per cent)
  • Lack of appropriate childcare (49 per cent)
  • Frequent postings (48 per cent)
  • Lack of family support (47 per cent)

AFF Policy and Research Director Louise Simpson explained: “Whilst flexible working is available to some soldiers, AFF believes the MOD and Army should promote it more widely.

“Modern families now require a fairer division of childcare and this is something that AFF will continue to push for.”

To find out more about AFF’s employment and training work, visit www.aff.org.uk and click “info”.