Women into Employment
Few people are aware that women have served in our Armed Forces for over one hundred years and now make up around 11% of the UK Regular Forces and 15% of the Reserves. Today, women serving have the opportunity to enjoy fulfilling and wide-ranging careers. Yet, recent research published as part of the Defence Sub-Committee report into ‘Women in the Armed Forces: From Recruitment to Civilian Life’ reveals that it can take women up to nine months or longer to find civilian employment upon leaving military life.
The report draws on research from many organisations, including the MOD, the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), the Royal British Legion and Cobseo, to highlight areas where female Service leavers face greater challenges compared to both their male counterparts and civilians. As a result, female Service leavers can face what amounts to a ‘double whammy’ when it comes to transitioning to civilian life:
- They can find it difficult to describe their skills and experiences in a way that makes sense to employers.
- They may hold back from applying for roles they could be applying for if they don’t meet all the job criteria or have childcare issues and other family commitments to consider.
Transitioning to civilian life can be difficult for all veterans due to the many changes it invokes on both a personal and professional level, and for many Service leavers, family considerations are their top priority. However, the impact on female veterans appears accentuated due to either one or more considerations; both partners leaving the Services together, family commitments, and preferences about where a family will live upon leaving. All can present additional employment barriers to overcome in the search for sustainable civilian employment.
UK Female Veterans
At the same time, not all female Service leavers experience difficulties finding civilian employment, but the data cannot be ignored, and the employment gap between women and their male counterparts remains acute. UK female veterans are less likely to be employed (76%) than male service leavers (87%) and are more likely to be economically inactive (18%) compared with males (7%). 2019 FiMT research found that almost a quarter (22%) of female Service leavers surveyed were not employed, but the majority (68%) stated that they would like to be in work. 69% of veteran respondents felt their skills and experience from the Armed Forces were not understood by civilian employers.
Childcare and family commitments add an additional layer of complexity and female Service leavers with young children may have more difficulty in taking advantage of resettlement opportunities, especially if their partners are away serving.
A recent House of Commons briefing covering ‘Women and the Economy’ found that in the UK, 15.49 million women aged 16+ were in employment, but that the female employment rate of 71.8% had dropped from the previous year, against a male employment rate of 80.6%. A total of 9.61 million women were working full-time, while 5.88 million were working part-time. Women made up the majority of part-time employment and the most common sectors for women’s employment in the UK are health and social work, the wholesale and retail trade and education.
Gender pay remains an issue with the largest gender pay gap emerging among full-time employees aged 40 and over. However, progress has been achieved with the proportion of women on FTSE 100 boards rising steadily since the 1990s, with more significant increases in recent years to 29% of FTSE 100 directorships and 27% of FTS E250 directorships.
Recognising these issues and wanting to provide practical employment advice with job opportunities, we launched a dedicated female employment event last year. We brought together serving and ex-military personnel, spouses and employers to create an event that was able to highlight a wide range of job opportunities. Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with 96% confirming the event helped support them with their next civilian career move.
This year the OA will run its second Women into Employment event, once again online, aimed at providing insight and expertise to enable women to maximise their skills and experience as they search for their next civilian role. Women into Employment takes place on 24th March 2022 and is open to all ranks, veterans, reservists, spouses, and partners.
Women into Employment provides another opportunity to raise the profile of female Service leavers to employers, highlighting their skills, training, and experience. Military-friendly employers recognise the skills that veterans bring and are keen to recruit from the female military talent pool to ensure a sufficient gender balance among their workforces.
Widespread Employer Support
With a variety of inspirational speakers from across industry, attendees will have the opportunity to learn from business leaders and employment experts, as well as female veterans who will be sharing their own successful transition stories. There will be advice to challenge potential barriers to employment such as overcoming a lack of commercial experience, translating military skills for civilian careers and the perception of female veterans.
The event provides a real opportunity to build a network of supportive employers and industry champions. It aims to address misconceptions in the recruitment process by hearing directly from national employers who recognise the value of recruiting from the military talent pool.
Companies taking part include our headline sponsor, National Cyber Force, with participating sponsors: Jacobs, KPMG, Ocado, Atkins, Citibank and associate sponsors: Tesco, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Dataminr, Genpact, London Business School, QinetiQ, Company X Consulting and Boston Consulting Group.
There will be an opportunity to hear what future-forward employers like National Cyber Force, JP Morgan and Jacobs look for in their future employees and why they are committed to recruiting from the female ex-military and spouse talent pools. There will also be time for online networking and questions throughout the day.
We will also focus on:
- How to build your personal brand
- Using social media for employment success
- Developing career confidence
- Exploring alternative pathways such as flexible working, part-time and return-to-work programmes.
5 Reasons to attend
- Gain practical, useable advice on finding and securing your next role
- Develop a better understanding of civilian employers and what they’re looking for from new hires
- Realise the potential of networking and how to do it
- Be inspired and motivated to take your next step
- And understand where ‘my best fit’ is within the civilian jobs market.