WASHINGTON — Balancing a civilian career with a military spouse’s career can be tough. While the service member might see a permanent change of station move as an inconvenience associated with furthering their military career, such moves can leave spouses stuck hoping to find a new job in a new area.
Robert L. Gordon III, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, said it doesn’t have to be that way. He joined a DoD Live “bloggers roundtable” recently to explain how the Military Spouse Employment Partnership is giving spouses more career and education options.
Gordon said the program has been growing. The program’s website currently lists more than 50,000 jobs. Since June 29, when the program began, more than 5,600 military spouses have found jobs. This success has attracted more companies to the program, he said.
“We have about 50 companies now who are expressing interest in becoming MSEP partners, and that is in addition to the 146 companies who have already submitted applications to become a part of MSEP,” Gordon said. “And we are currently in the process of vetting those 146 companies. So that makes a total of 210 companies who we’re either vetting or who have an interest in joining.”
Gordon added that the jobs listed through the program aren’t just entry-level jobs one might find in the classifieds. He said 42 percent of the jobs on the website require a college degree.
“And in fact, when we looked at job category — we looked at that data (and) this is some of the data — of the 54,000 jobs, over 10,000 of those jobs are in computer and mathematical fields,” he said. “We’ve got jobs for education, for health care, for installation management and repair, 800 jobs in information and technology, jobs in legal, in life, physical and social science, in management, in office and administrative support, 150 jobs in architecture and engineering, building grounds and cleaning maintenance.”
Another plus for the military spouse on the move: Nearly one-third of the jobs on the MSEP website are overseas. Gordon said once word of the employment program started getting around, companies came forward asking about tapping the military spouse market. In some cases, he said, a military spouse working in the United States could transfer to their employer’s new overseas office.
That kind of continuity is the program’s goal, he said. Getting spouses jobs and paychecks is a priority, Gordon said, but he’d like to see spouses who can start and maintain careers through the new employment program.
Right now, Gordon said, the best way to reach that goal is to continue to use and promote the program. He said continued user feedback from spouses is the best way to make sure MSEP is providing the intended benefits.
“We’ve got a good start, but we need to continue to sharpen and refine what we do,” Gordon said. “What I encourage you to do: Once again, kick the tires. Let’s get the word out.
“Tell me what’s not working so we can fix it,” he added, “and let’s also talk about the things, I think, with our communities that are working as well, so that they can use the website and find jobs.”