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A third of women are confident in returning to work after giving birth – new study

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Returning to work after maternity leave is a concept that many women find very difficult because of a range of concerns, from whether they are ready to leave their child to whether their skills are still relevant.

Get Qualified Australia recently carried out a study nationally representative survey of 550 Australian mothers aged between 18 and 64 years, only 32 per cent of women would be confident to re-enter the workforce after giving birth. 36 per cent would be somewhat confident and 32 per cent would not be confident.

Confidence steadily decreases as women age and the biggest insecurities they have about returning to work relate to balancing work and family commitments and whether their skills and knowledge are up-to-date.

In fact, 67 per cent of women feel that their current qualifications and skills are out of date and this only increases the longer they wait to return to work.

The majority of stay-at-home mothers have been out of the workplace for over five years and are highly motivated to kick-start their career again, as 66 per cent say that their financial contribution to the family is essential for their livelihood.

The ACT, South Australia and Tasmania demonstrated the highest percentage of mothers who identified financial contribution as being essential for livelihood.

The pressure is real

72 per cent of mothers feel that they need to up-skill in order to re-enter the workforce.

The primary industries of mothers who feel up-skilling is essential are construction, engineering, healthcare, HR, IT/ICT, manufacturing, science, senior management, and hospitality/tourism.

Mothers from ACT, NT, and Tasmania were most likely to feel that they need to up-skill.

67 per cent say they would re-enter the workforce if there were flexible hours whereas 51 per cent say they would re-enter if they were able to work from home.

A half of those surveyed say they would re-enter the workforce if they were able to work part-time.

There were 550 participants in the survey and of these 62 per cent were mothers who had returned to work whereas 38 per cent were stay-at-home mothers.

How confident are these mothers returning to the workforce?

The majority of return-to-work mothers (67%) did so within the first year of their child being born. Their financial situation was the primary factor that encouraged them to return to the workforce.

Interestingly, 59% of these mothers were confident to re-enter the workforce. The highest confidence industries are consulting/strategy, government/defence, insurance/superannuation senior management, science and HR.

The highest confidence states are Tasmania and Victoria. However, 41% of return-to-work mothers still felt that they needed to up-skill in order to re-enter the workforce.

“It’s unsurprising that so many Australian women have concerns about returning to work after the birth of their child, given that such a high percentage feel that their skills and qualifications are no longer up-to-date,” says Jasmina Dugalic from Get Qualified Australia.

“Most Australians aren’t aware that they could secure a qualification, often without the need for any study using their prior work experience.

“Through RPL (recognition of prior learning) and skills recognition, women are able to save time and money on completing study in order to upskill and secure a qualification. This would certainly increase confidence for women continuing their career once they have kids,” she continues.

Get Qualified Australia is Australia’s leading skills recognition and RPL (recognition of prior learning) specialist. Founded in 2010 by Adam Wadi, Get Qualified Australia is the first business of its kind – it has helped to upskill tens of thousands of professionals, from tradies to executives.

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