Each summer between 400 to 500 airmen move to Grand Forks Air Force Base and settle into new assignments as well as our community. About half move with a spouse and family.
Let us welcome this talent as the great new neighbors and workforce they are.
When we have a significant workforce shortage, military spouses are too often overlooked. Every two to four years, airmen and their spouses relocate and have to navigate the stress and pressure of new schools, new homes, making new friends, and finding employment to be a dual-income family. The spouses bring a tremendous work ethic, are well-educated, have diverse experiences, and embrace learning. They learned to thrive in an ever-shifting work environment.
The Air Force promotes “service before self” which means they assume responsibility, are accountable, and committed to a higher purpose – including family sacrifices to support military service. Military spouses share these values and beliefs, and make for excellent employees.
While our country experiences the lowest unemployment in five decades, military spouses are unemployed at a rate that hovers between 20 and 25% - over five times the rate of their civilian counterparts. A recent survey showed that 55% of responding military spouses experienced underemployment when a two-career, two-income family is a necessity. Finding a job is one of the top stressors of military families. Hopefully not here.
Companies nationwide have successfully implemented robust military spouse hiring programs and are seeing the benefits in employee morale as well as financially. Many employers learned the benefits of hiring veterans, and the same is now true with military spouses.
I encourage employers to commit to hiring military spouses, and state that commitment in their job postings.
In 2018, a majority of military spouses reported challenges in maintaining their required professional licenses or certificates. Sen. Scott Meyer of Grand Forks was prime sponsor of SB 2306 that removed unfair licensing barriers for military members and spouses. The law calls for state boards and commissions to grant reciprocal professional or probationary licenses within 30 days as long as they are in good standing in the originating state and they have at least two years of professional experience – a great solution to an unfair barrier.
Military spouses want to work. We want to make sure they have opportunities to work when they move here. Please welcome your new neighbors.