On Oct. 2, the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) inducted 48 new organizations into the public-private partnership established as a DoD program in 2011 as part of the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative. MOAA was part of the launch and continues to participate as a partner and a program ambassador.
The partnership has substantial significance when it comes to making marked improvements with the military spouse unemployment and underemployment problem, but it is also just the first step in what is needed to make a real and sustainable difference.
Let’s Fix the Problem
Underemployment and unemployment rates for military spouses are significantly higher than civilians’ and have been for a long time. Surveys consistently show this negatively affects quality of life for the entire family and is a major factor in influencing servicemembers to leave the military. Our nation’s ability to maintain an all-volunteer force is in jeopardy if we do not properly address this issue.
One of the barriers preventing this problem from being acknowledged, understood, and addressed earlier was the lack of data to define and understand the problem. Gathering data through quality surveys and research from military spouses and hiring entities is extremely difficult. Also, the problem is extremely complex, especially underemployment.
MSEP was established to lower these unemployment rates by partnering with corporations and hiring entities. The partnership is a visible way for companies to show their commitment to supporting military spouses with regards to employment. This year, the partners inducted signed this commitment:
Statement of Support Between the Armed Forces and Corporate Partners
The Armed Forces and Corporate America recognize that military spouses have the education, diversity, and skills that our nation needs to be the most competitive, productive workforce in the world.
Hiring and retaining military spouses as they relocate to new geographic locations is not only good for business, but it is the right thing to do as we thank them for their continued service to this nation. Military spouses offer Corporate America a ready workforce with the 21st century workforce skill sets capable of producing both national and international business success.
In an effort to establish strong and enduring partnerships between military spouses and America’s most successful employers in ways that are mutually beneficial, the Department of Defense and our corporate leadership join together in pledging
- To increase employment opportunities for military spouses that sustain a talented workforce for Corporate America while maintaining employment status for military spouses as they relocate to new locations across the nation and around the world
- To provide career promotion opportunities for military spouses who are helping their employers meet key business goals and objectives
- To support pay equity for military spouses commensurate with their level of training, work experience, accomplishments, and credentials
- To make known this Statement of Support throughout the Armed Forces, our Corporation, and Corporate America
According to a June 2017 fact sheet, more than 6 million jobs have been posted and 100,000 spouses hired by the MSEP since June 2011. In the week following the 2017 induction ceremony, the MSEP job database showed 366 participating partners with more than 260,000 jobs posted. These are impressive numbers, especially considering there are about 1 million military spouses.
3 Ways You Can Get the Most Out of the MSEP
Use the database. Search for positions that interest you. Even if you are not actively job searching, looking will keep you familiar with who is hiring, the qualifications required, and where jobs are located so when it is time to start applying, you are prepared. If over time, you don’t see jobs meeting your interests, then you know you will need to put effort into asking MSEP employers to create a position for you or approach employers out of the partnership.
Network with MSEP partners. Reach out to the contacts at a few of the MSEP companies that interest you to build your network, but more important, develop a relationship with people and companies who see the value of military spouses and are taking action to improve the opportunities available. DoD holds occasional MSEP Partner Connect chats with partners on their Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Facebook page. This gives you a chance to thank them, encourage them to continue, connect them with military spouses who fit their needs, and establish a resource for support if you encounter an employer who is not military friendly.
Share the program. For any program to survive and thrive, it needs to be used and provide value. When you share this program with military spouses and employers, you are spreading the word and improving the likelihood the program can grow to deliver great and greater value.
Increasing awareness of this pledge and participating companies’ actions to attract, hire, and retain military spouses means more companies will decide to join and more spouses will benefit.
To find a job on the MSEP portal, visit msepjobs.militaryonesource.mil.