Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Barriers to military spousal employment research project


IER is leading on a 6-month, mixed-methods project, in partnership with QinetiQ, to examine the barriers to spousal/partner employment among the Armed Forces and what more can be done to help spouses/partners gain and maintain work. Spousal/partners 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 military 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 this tri-service research project to examine employment statistics, making comparisons with civilian counterparts to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences faced by military families, as well as surveying and interviewing military spouses/partners, 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/partners disadvantaged in finding and maintaining employment by their partners’ service and, if so, in what ways?
  • Do military spouses/partners 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/partners 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/partners 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?)

To download a copy of the report click here.

Project Team:

Clare Lyonette (Principal Investigator)

Sally-Anne Barnes

Erika Kispeter

Project duration:

January 2017 - November 2018


Charity Logo