Ask any military spouse to make a list of most challenging aspect of PCSing and you’ll likely see ‘finding a job’ near the top of the list. Ask that same spouse to share the best part of PCSing and “meeting new people” usually ranks pretty high. For three military spouses, these two list-topping aspects of military life brought about a eureka moment and the idea for a new business.
Set to launch on August 26, 2016, MadSkills will help pair employers looking for developers, designers, marketing superstars, social media managers, accountants and more with military spouses and dependents who possess those skills. “The idea for MadSkills came to me after I joined several military spouse career groups. I talked to a lot of spouse and what I realized is there was just no EASY way to find a job,” says Erica McMannes, one of the co-founders of MadSkills . “While there are many incredible non-profit and career-oriented sites geared towards military spouse employment, many of the younger generation of spouses have no idea these organizations exist.”
When you consider that a 2015 report from Blue Star Families indicated that as many as 42% of military spouses are unemployed, resources to help military spouses find gainful employment are worth their weight in gold. “We are the ‘front lines’ of home life, but often people forget that military spouse are just as diverse, credentialed, and talented as our military spouses,” says McMannes.
Her sentiment isn’t just fluff. In a 2014 joint report from MOAA and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, it is estimated that more than 70% of military spouses hold an Associate’s degree or higher. “That’s why we did this,” adds co-founder Amy Shick. “MadSkills creates a way for businesses to tap into the expansive well of underutilized military spouses and bring them (back) into the workforce.”
McMannes, Shick, and third co-founder, Liza Rodewald, are no strangers to challenges of finding meaningful employment as military spouses. Each has turned to entrepreneurship to keep their career fires burning, and between them, the trio has over thirty years of entrepreneurial experience. “Just believing we could do this was my biggest challenge so far,” says McMannes. “After that, I think we struggle just like all working moms to find the right work/life/family balance.”
When asked who their dream client would be, McMannes was quick to answer, “Every military spouse IN THE WORLD. Oh, and First Lady Obama and her project, Joining Forces.”
Tackling military spouse unemployment and underutilization is a daunting task, but there’s no doubt that when three military spouses set their mind to something, only amazing things can happen. Interested businesses and spouses can find out more about MadSkills on their website, on Facebook, or by reaching out to co-founder Erica McMannes by email.
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