Partners of serving members and veterans have served the nation in their own unique way with many challenges not faced by civilian families. Long and regular periods of time away spent separated from the serving member, constant relocation to support the posting cycle and the subsequent challenges this presents. The 2017 ADF Families Survey stated that only 36% of partners had full time work with an unemployment rate of 17%, significantly higher than the community average.
The challenges of the employment situation come from many fronts. From the increased expectations and requirement to take on the primary role of parenting in the absence of the serving member to the lack of continuity in any role with relocation. Current self employment rates are very low sitting at 3% in the survey however it could hold the answer to increasing participation and employment opportunities.
Starting your own business offers distinct advantages and there are many different models to pursue. The key is to create an opportunity which not only has flexibility to manage family responsibilities, but also a digital footprint which allows the business to be relocated. The Covid-19 challenges in 2020 have forced the world to understand that home based work is not only possible with digital technology, but in many cases preferable. Across Australia and the world, there is a shift away from traditional workplace models with many people moving to freelance work. This new ‘Gig Economy’ provides significant opportunities for partners to access a career with flexibility.
The growth of digital platforms to provide connection and service delivery has opened a new era in how people work. The largest sector two sectors within the freelance category are software development (44%). The next three categories hold significant opportunity for partners within the veteran and serving military community. Design and creative (14%), customer and administrative support (13%) and sales and marketing (10%). These statistics are from the AI Group ‘The emergence of the Gig economy’ paper from August 2016. At that time, 4.1 million Australian, or 32% of the Australian workforce had participated in some form of freelancing. A number that has significantly risen in the subsequent years.
The ability to create business models which allow flexibility and relocation is not just applicable to this audience, it is the way of the future. Businesses are increasingly focused on specialisation and accept a greater need to outsource certain critical activities. This opportunity to provide administrative functionality, creative content, social media management as well as customer engagement activities are all significant opportunities for partners to access.
This is not only a space which deserves recognition due to the service and sacrifice the partner community has contributed to us all, but in the current economic climate, it is imperative we increase participation and create employment opportunities for all members of our society. An unemployment rate of 17% within the military partner community of intelligent, skilled, willing and able people is unacceptable.
For too long, employment solutions for partners of serving members and veterans have been based on jamming a square peg into a round hole. It’s time to look outside the box.
Veteran community entrepreneurs – Dare to be different
Pete is a former Australian Army Officer who transitioned successfully to self-employment. A passionate advocate of veteran community entrepreneurship, Peter has co-founded several businesses with Duntroon classmate Matthew Moseley including trusttheprocess.com.au
Peter and Matthew are the co-founders and co-CEO’s of the Veteran Community Business Chamber.