By Ms. Christie Vanover (IMCOM)November 20, 2008
CHIAfE+VRES, Belgium - Finding a job after moving to Belgium is difficult for many family members. It's so challenging that finding a solution is one of the top three priorities of the local Army Family Action Plan.
"Jobs are hard to come by, so we're working on the internship aspect to see if we can at least give spouses the chance to keep their skills current and develop some more," said Comel Rooms, AFAP coordinator.
While AFAP works with the command and higher headquarters to attain that goal, Army Family Covenant programs through Army Community Services offer family members other resources to help them find a job.
The first place to start is with the Employment Readiness Office. There, Pina Artale will walk newcomers through exactly how to search for local jobs.
"When you attend this, you learn how to apply for jobs in the different sectors," she said, adding that she provides guidance on searching and applying for jobs through the schools, commissary, federal government, contractors and more.
Both the ACS at SHAPE and in Brussels also offer programs on building a solid resume. "I'm not a recruiter. I'm not a placer. But I can help you be ready," said Artale.
The Employment Readiness Office held a Career Day Nov. 18 and 19 with a number of specialized classes to help job seekers. The concern that was addressed to AFAP however is that there are numerous qualified family members with higher educations that can't find the professional jobs for which they're qualified.
Artale recommended individuals who find themselves in that situation visit the ACS Volunteer Coordinator to get their foot in the door. "Being a volunteer will help them find a job," she said.
According to Deborah Wheeler, volunteer coordinator, there are standard volunteer jobs at the libraries, kennel and schools. "But what I like to do is to give individuals a needs assessment. It peaks the person's interests, and it generates other thoughts that they might not normally have about what they like to do," she said.
"I like to think outside the box. I can go to organizations and work with the person in charge to work up a job description to help them so the volunteer gets to do something they're interested in, they're motivated about and that helps the organization," she added.
Organizations interested in creating volunteer positions can also contact Wheeler directly. She said although the organization might not have a paid position available at this time, hiring a volunteer is advantageous for when positions do open up.
"It gives the organization the opportunity to learn who they [the volunteers] are and what they're work ethic is, so it works for both," she said.
Employment and Volunteer Coordinators are located at military installations worldwide. Contact your local ACS for more information.