It is more important than ever that job seekers have access to career information, advice and guidance and develop career management skills to help them navigate the rapidly changing labour market and uncertain future. Career development support delivered by qualified professionals can help individuals build the skills and knowledge they need about themselves and the labour market to aid in their career decision making and strategies. Career development professionals can support clients through job loss and transition, provide job search strategies for those who have lost their jobs, help applicants communicate their value to employers in a highly competitive job market, help those in sectors at risk of redundancies plan for the future, assist people in making decisions about balancing their paid and unpaid roles, and support decision making about education and training options (just to name a few).
According to Dr Ann Villiers from the Career Development Association of Australia “The Covid 19 Pandemic is highlighting the need for Australia to establish a highly visible, lifelong career guidance system that ensures that all people have access to career support across their lifespan, when they need it, and in a form that suits them”.
ADF partners currently have access to a funding program to access professional career support. The Partner Employment Assistance Program (PEAP) aims to offset some of the negative impacts on employment when the ADF member is relocated on posting or medically discharging, by providing funding up to $1500 to access professional employment services. In June Defence announced that due to the effects of COVID 19 on the employment market the eligibility conditions for PEAP would be expanded and the requirement for a partner to have relocated on posting would (temporarily) not apply. This gave many more ADF partners access to qualified career support to help them navigate the changing labour market. Unfortunately the program does not require service providers to be qualified professionals. To quote CDAA “What makes high quality career services is well understood. They are delivered by qualified, impartial, highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals called career development practitioners”. I reiterate the recommendation made in my original report that PEAP providers be professional members of Career Industry Council of Australia member organisations such as the Career Development Association of Australia in order for the Partner Employment Assistance Program to be most effective.
We already know from survey data that mobility is not the only factor negatively affecting partner employment, and Covid has shone an even brighter light on other aspects such as juggling multiple paid and unpaid career-life roles. I hope that this will result in partner employment support being taken out from under the mobility support component of the ADF’s family policy and that partner employment is addressed as a quality of life issue in its own right enabling the multiple factors to be addressed.
ADF partners are no strangers to uncertainty and adaptation. The ability to adapt will be a critical skill as we move into a future Australia, and ADF partners may have an advantage in this regard. Systemic challenges to employment aside, many ADF partners exhibit adaptability and other sought-after employability skills and attributes that should, in theory, serve them well in the changing labour market. Building relationships between the defence community and employers will help ADF partners make the most of these employability skills and attributes.