Female veterans ‘face double whammy’

Female veterans face double barrier to finding work after leaving service, according to a new study.

Members of all three services gathered at Kandahar Air base to pay their respects during a service of Remembrance in November 2014.

Female veterans face a ‘double whammy’ of challenges when it comes to transitioning into employment once they have left the Armed Forces – those that are experienced by Service leavers in general, as well as those faced specifically by women, according to a new report.

The research carried out by Cranfield University and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) examines the employment outcomes and experiences of female Service leavers as they transition into civilian paid employment. The report, commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), looks at the reasons why women have a lower employment rate (69%) compared to men (81%), after leaving the Armed Forces.

The research, which included a review of existing data, interviews and a survey with stakeholders, employers and female Service leavers themselves, reveals:

  • Most women leave the Armed Forces voluntarily, most commonly for reasons related to work-life balance, job satisfaction, lack of opportunities and family responsibilities.
  • One in four (22%) of the 154 women surveyed in the research were not employed, but the majority (68%) of those women wanted to be in work.
  • Employers want to recruit Service leavers with benefits perceived to include work ethic, motivation, resilience and loyalty.

However, Service leavers in general have difficulty translating their military skills and experience into the civilian world, with some employers also believing they lack commercial and market experience and find it hard to adjust to less structured environments.

Female Service leavers and employers interviewed in the report said that women, unlike their male counterparts, undervalue their experience and may deselect themselves from roles they are suitable for.

The report also includes recommendations for the Ministry of Defence and employers, and calls on the MOD to:

  • Provide increased flexibility in working practices and childcare.
  • Provide support and advice for women leaving the Armed Forces, including how to find employment that allows flexible working and in sectors not traditionally seen as avenues for Service leavers.
  • Promote the benefits of employing female Service leavers and supporting employers to do so.

Professor Emma Parry, the lead researcher at Cranfield University, says: “Female Service leavers face a double whammy of obstacles when it comes to transitioning into civilian employment. Only a minority of the women we spoke to felt that they received enough support during transition, and some said that the support they did get was not properly tailored to their needs. We hope this study inspires a collective effort to improve their transition to civilian employment.”



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