Evaluation of the Ministry of Defence Spouse Employment Support Trial

July, 2018

This report details the outcomes of an evaluation of the employment support package offered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to spouses of serving military personnel. The research sought to understand the impact of employment support for military spouses, which is accessed through the the MOD’s Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial. The SES Trial was launched in 2015 in response to the need for increased provision and support for spouses, to optimise their access to employment opportunities that match their skills, knowledge and experience.


This report provides a comprehensive evaluation of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial. The Trial ran from 26th October 2015 until 30th September 2017 and incorporated spouses of personnel serving in the Royal Air Force (across a range of UK locations) and spouses of tri-Service Personnel serving at Joint Forces Command in Cyprus. The report addresses both the impact of the Trial on participating spouses and spouses’ perceived needs for employment support. Previous research has identified numerous challenges for spouses in connection with their employment and attempts to find work (e.g., Castaneda and Harrell, 2007). Such challenges include a lack of jobs in remote locations where the military operate, dealing with un- or underemployment, lower pay, and fewer opportunities to pursue a career (Meadows et al., 2015). The impact of these challenges has been highlighted by military spouses and organisations that support them (such as the Army Families Federation), and is reflected in the fact that ‘spouse employment’ is consistently listed in MOD surveys (i.e., the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey [AFCAS] and the family version [FAMCAS]) as one of the main reasons why Service Personnel will consider leaving the military. In response to the need for provision of employment support, the MOD launched a new Spouse Employment Support (SES) Trial in 2015, to help spouses optimise their access to employment and to help them find better employment at a level that is commensurate with their skills, knowledge and experience and/or in accord with their aspirations and ability. Spouses participating in the Trial were given access to job readiness support in the form of careers counselling and workshops, as well as a training grant up to the value of £879 with which to pursue employment-related training in their chosen field.

Full Reference

Caddick, N., Godier, L., Sanchez-Vazquez, A., Ivory, C. and Fossey, M., 2018. Evaluation of the Ministry of Defence Spouse Employment Support Trial. Final Report. London: Forces in Mind Trust. Available at: <>.

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