A NEW evaluation of the MOD’s Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial has shown the advantages of supporting spouses of Service personnel.

The study, funded by Forces in Mind Trust and conducted by Anglia Ruskin University, reviewed how spouses progressed when given specific support to improve their chances of employment.

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

Recommendations included 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.

Ray Lock, chief executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “When the MOD 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. We were also pleased to be invited to provide an independent evaluation through Anglia Ruskin University.

“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 families 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 is also a priority.

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

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.

“I’m delighted that the Spouse Employment Support Trial has proved to be a success, and I am confident that the spouses and partners will continue to make an invaluable contribution to society.”

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People, added: “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.”

Matt Fossey, post-doctorate director of the Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research at Anglia Ruskin University, 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 ground-breaking 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.”

Read the full report here.

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