by Chris Hutchinson, Sr. Vice President of Engagement, Eleven Fifty Academy
If you Google the question, “How do military spouses make money?,” the first page of results is very telling about the situation many military families find themselves in. There are some great articles from Military.com about how spouses can earn extra money with great ideas like running a digital business, working in remote sales, or taking freelance work. There are tips about how to start a blog to earn a living, or how to sell art and crafts online with the help of websites like Etsy.com.
That doesn’t come as a surprise to me as someone who works with organizations like Hiring Our Heroes to help empower veterans and military families towards finding rewarding careers in tech. Even so, for all the work Eleven Fifty does with veterans, I was still taken aback by this statistic Hiring Our Heroes published as part of their Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses campaign:
There’s a 16% unemployment rate among military spouses.
Think about that. It’s four times normal unemployment rates for the rest of the country, the pandemic notwithstanding. And that makes sense! It can be very difficult for military spouses to find work when following their enlisted family members from duty station to duty station. And if you think it’s a matter of education getting in the way, that’s not always the case; at least 90% of military spouses report being underemployed. Changing jobs relatively frequently can be tough on any resume, and it’s even more difficult when you consider the challenge of a military spouse having to find a job that matches with their education and their skillset.
It’s clear we need to do better as a society to support military spouses by increasing opportunities for good jobs, and I believe there has literally never been a better time to do just that.
Is Remote Work the Answer?
It’s no secret that since the pandemic hit, entire industries have had to come to grips with the idea of a remote workforce. Whether people are in the same city as their employer or far away, certain types of roles have gone completely remote—and tech jobs are some of the easiest to navigate from a distance.
In fact, we even recently published an infographic all about how communities across the United States are adapting to the new remote landscape of work through incentives and investments in tech infrastructure that makes it possible to work for really any company that’s hiring remote help.
As you can see, the opportunities for remote work in the tech industry are multiplying right now, and I think that could be a game changer for military spouses who are new to an area or aren’t sure where their family might be located even six months from now. The trick is making tech education accessible to those military spouses looking for opportunities just like these.
Making Tech Education Accessible to Military Spouses
For the time being, tech bootcamps like the ones we offer at Eleven Fifty are the perfect way to bridge this gap and help military spouses get skilled up for tech jobs. Though we’re based in Indianapolis, we’ve gone completely remote for the foreseeable future. At the same time, we’re working hard to expand our real-world footprint with campuses across the country, complete with admissions specialists and career services professionals dedicated to helping our graduates land their first job after an 8-to-26-week bootcamp in web development, software development, UX/UI design, or cybersecurity.
The real work to help military spouses take advantage of the low-cost, high-speed, and completely remote chance to learn valuable tech skills is to make it easier for them to take advantage. That’s why we’ve connected with Freedom Learning Group, whose unique approach to supporting veterans and military spouses with employment opportunities has real promise—especially when paired with our remote bootcamp model.
We’ve begun talks with Freedom Learning Group to identify the contract-based needs their clients in education, publishing, and corporate America have for tech talent. We then can work with military spouses to help them explore their passions and career goals and match them to the right bootcamp opportunities that will align with current employment needs. The result? Military spouses in need of work, skilled up with practical skills, ready to be hired directly by Freedom Learning Group and their clients.
To be clear, this is just one example of how I think educational institutions need to work together with the military community to solve unemployment and underemployment challenges among veterans and their families. I believe that the time is right to get creative and ensure that military spouses are prepared for in-demand jobs with companies across industries—and across the country—no matter where their spouses’ service may take them.
If you know of a military spouse looking for their next opportunity, please connect with Freedom Learning Group or reach out to me directly. I believe tech is a way forward for military spouses, and I can’t wait to prove it.