Welcome to the 1st blog from the Keeping Enough in Reserve project. We are a team of researchers based at Newcastle and Bristol Universities, looking at what reservists think about their unique position as both civilians and as military personnel, and how they manage civilian jobs alongside a Reserves commitment. We are particularly interested in:
- how reservists themselves think about the relationship between their military and civilian roles; and how the two roles fit together;
- how they think about their identities as personnel and as regular employers, and how they talk about these roles to their colleagues in the workplace; and
- what employers understand about the Reserves, how they manage reservists who work for them, and what advantages and disadvantages employers might see in the employment of reservists.
We are also interested in more abstract questions about what being in the Reserves might mean for reservists’ rights and responsibilities as citizens. A lot of the existing military research sees the armed forces and civil society operating as two quite distinct entities. We are interested in trying to think beyond this, and we think that reservists, as both civilian employees and as military personnel, will have some insights on this issue which we can learn from.
Our research will focus on the Tyneside and Bristol areas. These are two quite different areas in terms of their labour markets, their economic histories, their historical relationships with the armed forces, and their current patterns of armed forces basing. In looking at Tyneside and the Bristol areas, we will be comparing and contrasting the two to establish whether there are any significant differences in local labour markets which affect Reserves participation.
We want to look at reservists in the British Army, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Naval Reserve. We will be interviewing reservists from all three armed forces in both Tyneside and the Bristol area, using in-depth interviews. We will also be running some focus groups which will include both regulars and reservists, to get a good sense of how both work together. In addition, we will use data from the Tri-Service Continuous Attitude Survey, and other defence statistics, to put what we find from our interviews into a broader context.
We will also do case study research on a selection of employers in both areas to get a sense of the range of issues employers face when employing reservists. Case study research will be useful in getting information about what different employers do in terms of managing their employees’ Reserves commitments, and will also start to add to our knowledge of how important employer sector and size is on their ability to support Reserves participation amongst its workforce.