Keeping enough in reserve: Reservist and employer perspectives on the Future Reserves 2020 programme

Project Details


The GIC is part of an exciting research project, funded by the ESRC in Collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and British Army. The project is led by Professor Rachel Woodward (University of Newcastle, the PI), with Professor Tim Edmunds and Dr Paul Higate at the University of Bristol, and Dr Neil Jenkings at the University of Newcastle. The project runs from September 2014-May 2018.

Keeping Enough in Reserve is a three year, £296,620 project examining the employment and identity issues pertaining to reservists serving with the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Naval Reserve. The aim is to use a mix of quantitative and qualitative data to address three research questions. These are:

•What issues pertaining to the military-civilian-citizenship nexus are raised by the policy interventions and managerial practices around the FF2020 programme?
•How far, and in what kinds of ways, is the expanded role of the armed forces reserves (primarily Volunteer Reserves) contingent on employer and wider labour market issues?
•How are hybridised reservist identities constructed, articulated and reproduced?

The Army Reserve, the Maritime Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force are to be significantly expanded in ways intended to develop the ability of the UK armed forces to meet the challenges of a constantly evolving security environment as we move forward into the 21st Century. This research will provide a rigorous evidence base with which to maximise the proposed transformation in ways that will enhance operational effectiveness of this newly configured force.

The project addresses a number of key challenges associated with the proposed transformation of the armed forces under the Future Reserves 2020 programme, in ways that ensure not just the assimilation of reservists, but crucially, their genuine integration. In order to do so, the research will focus on the consequences of the reservist policy for the relationship between the armed forces and its host society, what it means to be both a soldier and a civilian in citizenship and identity terms, how employers both view and respond to the FR20 programme, and ultimately, the likelihood that such a transformation will succeed.

In more detailed terms, the research will investigate what kinds of civilian held skills are most likely to be attractive to the armed forces and vice versa, as well as look in-depth at what it means to be a reservist. How do reservists negotiate their participation in and transitions between the armed forces and the civilian work-place? What does it mean to be deployed in an operational theatre for the experience of moving back to a qualitatively different civilian environment? How do these transitions impact on employers? How might employers be better placed to facilitate reserve service?

Addressing these and closely allied questions is an integral aspect of the wider changes being proposed to the armed forces reserves and to the armed forces, and the intention of the research is to provide a robust evidence base to inform the proposed changes.

The research project forms part of the "ESRC Future of the Armed Forces: understanding issues around integration of Regular and Reserve personnel” Research Programme. The overall aim of the programme is to help identify and understand the cultural, social and economic issues that integration may have for reserve personnel in the context of their military service, including integration with regulars, and their civilian lives, especially families and employment, as well as reservist retention issues.

The Ministry of Defence Sponsor for this project and overall programme is the Army Reform Directorate General. Research results will help inform some of the pressing issues facing the British Armed Forces in the process of integrating Regular and Reserve components and will contribute to evidence as to the effectiveness of current policy as well as inform subsequent policy directly relating to the implementation of Army 2020 reforms.
Effective start/end date1/09/1431/05/18

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Global Insecurities Centre


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