A new report commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust says female veterans face a ‘double whammy’ of challenges when it comes to transitioning into employment once they have left the Armed Forces. Those challenges are both those experienced by Service leavers in general, and those faced specifically by women. The report was carried out by Cranfield University and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). who focused on 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, found:
- 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 were not employed, but the majority (68%) of those women wanted to be in work.
- Employers want to recruit Service leavers because they were perceived to have positive 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 for the report said that women, unlike their male counterparts, undervalue their experience and may deselect themselves from roles they are suitable for.
The report includes recommendations for the MoD 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.