A new evaluation of the Ministry of Defence’s Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial has shown the advantages of supporting spouses of Service personnel…

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

Key findings of the evaluation detail the essential role of employment support in building spouses’ confidence; with 78% of participants saying their involvement in the Trial had 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 of the SES Trial, 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.

Chief Executive of the FiMT, Ray Lock CBE 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 Ministry of Defence, 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 their career aspirations.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: “We have a duty to ensure that spouses and partners, who play such a vital role in the Armed Forces community, receive the support they deserve. I’m delighted that this trial has proved to be a success, and I am confident that they will continue to make an invaluable contribution to society.”

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 as we continue to implement support for military families.”

Matt Fossey, 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 research shows the unanticipated consequences of introducing 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.”

You can read the full report here.