Hiring Our Heroes’ inboxes have been flooded with questions from military spouses and employers eager to participate in the newly announced Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot (MSCAP).
“Since the program’s launch, Hiring Our Heroes received an influx of more than 800 MSCAP applications from spouses struggling to find meaningful careers,” said Crystal Cochran, Senior Director of Programs and Events at Hiring Our Heroes.
The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot provides spouses with paid 12-week fellowships at employers across various industries and locations throughout the United States. Military spouses accepted into the program will be placed with host companies based on location and work experience, among other factors.
“Fellowships may offer a foot in the door with an employer and a professional network. A network is key to securing employment, but due to the military lifestyle, many spouses struggle to develop professional connections,” Cochran said.
Depending on the host company’s needs, fellowships may take place in person or remotely. At the end of the fellowship, spouses who excel in the program may be invited to join the host company as a direct hire.
Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot Is a Game Changer
The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot is a first of its kind for military spouses and was included in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. DoD selected the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes to administer MSCAP for the three-year pilot.
As deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, Patricia Montes Barron described MSCAP as “a game changer for career-ready military spouses.”
“Military spouses have made it clear that meaningful employment is essential to their quality of life. We hope this program provides them a strong start to solid employment opportunities,” she said. “The department has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to provide robust and meaningful fellowship placement that could lead to full-time employment.”
Military Spouses Struggle to Find Employment
More than 22% of active-duty military spouses report being unemployed even though 76% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to Hiring Our Heroes’ “The Hidden Financial Costs of Military Spouse Unemployment” report.
Frequent relocation is a common reason military spouses struggle to find work. “The Hidden Financial Costs” survey respondents report moving an average of four times and holding an average of two full-time roles since becoming a military spouse.
Military spouses have made it clear that meaningful employment is essential to their quality of life.Patricia Montes Barron
Given these challenges, it is not surprising most respondents believe their military lifestyle — one involving frequent relocations, unpredictable service member schedules, and childcare issues — is a primary career-building challenge. A majority (88%) agree or strongly agree their military lifestyle impacts their ability to find jobs at their experience and/or education level. A similar percentage (90%) agree or strongly agree military service negatively affects their career.
Hiring Our Heroes Connects Military Spouses to Exceptional Professional Opportunities
Since 2017, Hiring Our Heroes has facilitated a six-week fellowship program for military spouses and caregivers. Within 18 months of the launch of the Military Spouse Fellowship Program, more than 130 military spouses were placed with paid fellowships. In 2019, the program expanded to four locations and grew to eight locations in 2020.
In 2022, more than 300 spouses participated with nearly 100 host companies. The current job offer rate is 91% for participants. The average starting salary is $70,000.
Army spouse Sherita Miller had 14 years of experience in human resources and had recently worked as a salary analyst for Cumberland County Schools in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when she applied for the Military Spouse Fellowship Program. Miller had recently relocated to Tampa, Florida where she was faced with her toughest professional challenge as a military spouse – planning a long-term career path.
“As a military spouse, I have been very fortunate to work for very supportive supervisors, but my pay hasn’t always been the best,” Miller told Hiring Our Heroes when starting her fellowship in January 2022.
After completing her fellowship with Advanced Strategic Insight, Miller accepted a position as an administrator coordinator with ASI.
“The Hiring Our Heroes fellowship program has given me the opportunity to believe in myself again and to connect with some amazing people,” Miller said.
The Hiring Our Heroes fellowship program has given me the opportunity to believe in myself again.Sherita Miller
Fellows Fit Employers’ Needs
By partnering with the fellowship program, employers gain access to a pipeline of military spouse fellows equipped with education, transferable skills, and experience in various roles and industries.
John Arce, director of cyber security community of practice at B.E.A.T. LLC, described the fellowship program as “amazing.” B.E.A.T. has hosted 14 military spouse fellows.
“The program managers not only work with the fellows to get them placed, but they work with us to find fellows to fit our needs,” Arce said. “They help filter through the candidates, giving them the best opportunity for employment and training.”
The Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot will run for three years, and applications will be accepted throughout the program, with new opportunities available each month. The first cohort of fellows will be placed with their host companies starting in January 2023.
“Hiring Our Heroes stands ready to serve career-ready military spouses and provide the economic opportunities military families deserve,” Cochran said. “We look forward to supporting military spouses and connecting them with a proven path to employment.”