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Military Spouses are a Rich Talent Pool for Tech Companies

Jennifer Taylor, Vice President, U.S. Jobs, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) shows 70 percent of tech industry leaders will hire more employees in the coming years – especially larger companies. So where will we find these workers?

On October 23, CTA, the Northern Virginia Technology Council and Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) convened critical stakeholders – including Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense – to discuss how best to tap a ready source of talent.

Attendees at the Military Spouse Employment Summit included Sen. Tim Kaine (middle), Blue Star Families’ Kathy Roth-Douquet (in red), and CTA’s Jennifer Taylor (far right)

Almost 120,000 spouses of military members are looking for work. More than 160,000 have simply given up on the job market. And those with jobs face underemployment relative to their levels of education at a rate of 38 percent. But these women and men have the experience, transferrable skills and education many tech companies want. 

Sen. Kaine hears consistent themes from military spouses including their difficulties seeking gainful employment and establishing long-standing careers with employers. In addition, the inability of state credentials and qualifications to automatically transfer poses another serious challenge.

“I want to pull the bright minds together in the DC area, where there are so many military families, and brainstorm about the need to address the 28 percent unemployment rate and identify what are the best practices in the private sector and policies that we can expand upon,” said Sen. Kaine. “And [Northern Virginia] might become a model region. We might be able to do some things here to address this issue that San Diego or Norfolk or El Paso will say, ‘We want to do what they are doing.’”  

During the summit, military spouses shared their stories and described the employment challenges they face, including:

  • Frequent moves and deployments

  • Limited access to flexible and affordable childcare

  • Lack of flexible and portable work options

  • Lack of state reciprocity for professional licensing

  • A disconnect with employers about the realities of life as an active duty military spouse

Companies that want to be Active-Duty Military Spouse Friendly can start by developing an active workforce development program that proactively seeks active duty military spouses – separate and distinct from any Veterans Hiring programs. Companies including CTA members Amazon, Samsung, Sprint and USAA participated in the summit and shared examples of how they’re working to boost military spouse employment:

  • Offering flexible full- and part-time schedules, telecommuting options and ‘virtual workplaces’

  • Providing job portability, so spouses can retain positions when they relocate

  • Increasing access to quality, affordable and flexible childcare

  • Hiring military spouses in talent acquisition offices and/or train talent acquisition managers to be more understanding of military spouses’ unique challenges

  • Offering consistent career development and coaching services for military spouses

CTA is committed to addressing our nation’s current skills gap, growing the number of high-quality jobs and increasing employment not only for veterans, but also active-duty military spouses. It’s our goal to transition our country into a fully-equipped, highly-skilled 21st-century workforce.

What does your company need to do to more effectively tap this underused source of workforce talent? See what policy experts said about the future of work at CTA’s New American Jobs Summit.