Today DFA added some very exciting new pages about partner employment to our website.
We are passionate about the importance of our Defence partners gaining and maintaining meaningful employment as they encounter some of the challenges of this Defence life, such as moving. Based on the research we have done so far on this issue and programs in North America, there are three key components to addressing Defence partner employment:
- Job readiness (such as resume writing, interview and career coaching).
- Education for employers on the business case for hiring a Defence partner and some of the policy and procedures they can implement to assist partners gain and maintain meaningful employment.
- Monitoring and fostering the connection of partners with Defence partner friendly employers.
(Financial assistance for education opportunities for partners also has some role to play although there is limited evidence yet as to the most effective assistance that will result in a mobile, longer-term career.)
These new pages on our website are designed to address the employer education and connection components. In consultation with a Defence partner who is an employment professional, DFA has developed a checklist for the ‘gold standard’ of what it means to be a Defence partner friendly employer.
Employers involved in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program who meet the standard of the checklist have been invited to provide a link to the employment section of their website for inclusion in our initiative. I have had conversations with human resource professionals in each of these organisations and they understand issues like gaps in your resume don’t mean you’re not committed to your profession – it just means you may have been posted to some tricky locations and you’ve had to be resourceful.
Some of these organisations are doing work for Defence so they also value the opportunity to access a pool of talent who already understand the department.
I need to be clear that this is not about preferential treatment – you’ll get the job if you’re qualified. And there is not a pool of guaranteed jobs sitting there for you. You may find that discouraging but let me assure you that educating our employers is an important first step. I talked about this issue with a business manager at a recent dinner and he said, “I had never thought of the spouses.” Because we live this life every day and are just getting on with it, I think sometimes we don’t realise how much others don’t understand.
Education is spreading about the veteran employment experience and now is the time to start educating about the partner employment challenge. I think it’s important to use the word ‘challenge’ and not hide the fact that factors like moving can be hard.
We’ve limited this initiative to the employers involved in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program so that it’s manageable given our resources. I also hope to be able to pass along this initiative to another, larger, organisation at some point who can address all of the factors for success I mentioned earlier.
There are a variety of initiatives happening in this space (some state-based, some national) so I continue to talk with businesses, ex-service organisations and government departments to find out what they are doing and share our checklist as we are the only ones who have defined specifically what policies employers can put in place for Defence partners.
I know it sounds like there are a lot of ifs and maybes when it comes to implementing a national and holistic partner employment program but be assured that DFA is not letting the ball drop on this as a key advocacy issue. Change often doesn’t happen quickly and I know it doesn’t get you a job today but there is great value in starting a conversation with an employer about what they can do.
If you have an experience with any of these employers that you would like to share then please email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DFA National Convenor