By Stephanie Colombini
Veterans and members of the military seeking jobs as they transition to civilian life can connect with potential employers at a job fair Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Fair organizers are also welcoming military spouses, who often struggle to find steady work.
About 24% of active duty military spouses are unemployed, according to the most recent data from the Department of Defense. That’s more than six times the national average.
Army veteran Allen Von Plinsky is event coordinator for RecruitMilitary, which is hosting the job fair. He said it can be hard for spouses to maintain careers when they're constantly on the move, usually with little control over where their next home will be.
"Military orders range anywhere between a year to two, maybe three, and if a veteran is lucky enough to get four or five year orders they can stay put and give a little more stability to the spouse, but for the most part it’s every one to three years,” he said. “So they're moving and only Uncle Sam knows where they're going."
Raising a family can also make it more challenging for spouses to work, especially if the service member parent is deployed.
And while Tampa, which is home to MacDill Air Force Base, is a city with many businesses, other military bases are located in small communities with few employment opportunities.
“I can tell you from personal experience, a lot of the U.S. Army military installations are in the middle of nowhere,” Von Plinsky said. “Not a lot of industry out there, not a lot of ability for jobs unless you’re working in restaurants, retail or hospitality, so there’s not a lot of opportunities there.”
Von Plinsky said the company is working to help connect spouses with businesses that hire people who can work from anywhere.
He said there is a growing amount of remote work opportunities, now that technology allows for it and businesses are starting to build a support network for employees who work from home.
He said spouses who work remotely can easily travel with their families when military orders move them elsewhere and allow them to maintain the skills and knowledge base that come with holding the same job for an extended period time.
And for spouses who don’t have time to work a full-time job because of parenting responsibilities or other reasons, there are part-time opportunities as well.
“There are a lot of remote jobs out there that don’t necessarily need you to be working 40 hours a week, you know some jobs say, ‘Hey, we only need you Monday and Tuesday, so you’ve got Wednesday through Friday,’” Von Plinsky said.
Jobs that involve working from home typically require being comfortable with a computer. Some fields that offer remote work opportunities include IT and communications.
The job fair at Amalie Arena is Thursday from 11 a.m to 3 p.m.