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Barriers to military spousal employment research project

Interested in participating in our research?

We are looking for volunteers to be interviewed for this important project: if you are a spouse or partner of someone serving, we would like to talk to you. You’ll be sent a £15 Amazon voucher after the interview to thank you for taking part. Please read the Information sheet, then fill in the questions on the webpage and submit the form.

IER is leading on a 6-month, mixed-methods project, in partnership with QinetiQ, to examine the barriers to spousal employment among the Armed Forces and what more can be done to help spouses gain and maintain work. Spousal employment has been an important focus for Army Families Federation (AFF) for many years and they have worked hard to discover the main barriers that Army families face, when trying to secure employment for the non-serving members. While the evidence gained so far has been shared with chain of command and policy makers, AFF still believes there is more work to be done, and that a fresh approach is needed to dig deeper into this ongoing issue. With the assistance of Libor funding, AFF has therefore commissioned this research to examine employment statistics, making comparisons with civilian counterparts to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences faced by Army families, as well as surveying and interviewing Army spouses, key stakeholders and employers. The project sets out to answer the following research questions::

  • What is the employment status of military spouses/partners, compared to those in civilian couples?
  • Are military spouses disadvantaged in finding and maintaining employment by their partners’ service and, if so, in what ways?
  • Do military spouses want to work and why? (e.g., to make a financial contribution to the household, to reduce isolation, to maintain an identity and career and/or upgrade skills, etc.)
  • Are the employment decisions of military spouses based on personal choice or due to factors that make obtaining and/or maintaining paid employment unappealing, undesirable or untenable?
  • What support do military spouses receive to help them get into work and what do they consider to be appropriate help to get them into - and stay in - employment? (e.g., why have previous initiatives been poorly attended and what would make a real difference?)

Project Team:

Clare Lyonette (Principal Investigator)

Sally-Anne Barnes

Erika Kispeter

Project duration:

January 2017 - November 2018