A former Downing Street adviser has launched a co-working initiative in Scotland to develop entrepreneurialism and skills around military bases.
Sarah Stone, who was an external relations adviser to David Cameron while he was Prime Minister and a former member of the Royal Signals, hopes the initiative will channel vital talent to local businesses and help bridge the skills gap.
Stone, whose husband still serves in the army, has teamed up with other working military wives to establish a pilot co-working space at the Leuchars base in Fife.
She said: “It’s currently virtually impossible to maintain a career and hold down a ‘normal’ 9-5 job if you’re married to someone in the military.
“There are thousands of highly-skilled, qualified military spouses and partners all over the country who want to work, but can’t.
“We thought if we could provide an office on a military base where spouses could work for themselves, it might also provide a conduit for employers and businesses to tap into the skills that are lying dormant in these communities.”
Stone said there remains an enormous amount of unconscious bias towards the spouses or partners of people in the army, navy or RAF.
“There’s this idea that we sit around baking cakes and singing in choirs, which is completely out of date,” she said. “The reality is that modern military spouses are accountants, lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, graphic designers, web designers… pretty much every industry or occupation you can imagine.”
The project has been inspired by the Scottish Government’s “Can Do Places” initiative, which aims to help regenerate urban and rural communities by turning redundant buildings into places for entrepreneurial activity.