Initiatives needed to encourage mothers back to work

There
is a need for more initiatives to encourage women with children under five years of age into
learning and back to the workplace, new research claims.

Research
carried out by Brunel
University
on behalf of  the London West Learning and
Skills Council shows that while women are motivated to study or return to work
for both professional and personal reasons, childcare concerns and a lack of
confidence in their ability are preventing them from doing so.

The
nine-month study by Brunel
University, funded through the European Social Fund, suggests that if such
factors continue to have a negative influence on a woman’s choice to study or
return to work, it could hinder their lifetime earning capacity, overall skills
development and, in turn, the skills available to the economy.

However,
the study concludes that a solution may involve encouraging mothers and
children to participate in family learning sessions, and the provision of
suitable and subsidised childcare facilities.

The research found that mothers are motivated by
both personal and professional factors when considering study opportunities or
returning to work.

Personal
factors include a need to leave the house and escape isolation, a desire to
develop greater self-confidence and improve their skills, and a wish to be seen
as a role model by their children. Professional reasons for taking up training
include a desire to gain qualifications, change career, improve employment
prospects and increase earning potential.

Despite
these motivations, many mothers lack confidence in relation to education and
training. Many women are concerned that, having spent time away from the
workforce and in the company of children, they will look ‘stupid’ and less
bright than other adults.

The
cost and quality of childcare are also major issues for women with young
children.

Dr
Emma Wainwright, research officer at the Department of Geography and Earth
Sciences, Brunel
University,
said: “Many women want to study or return to work. However, they are facing difficult
economic and social barriers.

“We
therefore need to put in place flexible learning and support systems, so those
parents who wish to study or work are encouraged to engage in lifelong
learning, as this will raise their confidence, their earning potential and
ultimately increase the skills level of the workforce.”

Peter
Pledger, executive director
of the London West Learning and Skills Council, said: “It is of vital
importance that everyone is given the opportunity to engage in learning and to take
the necessary steps to help them enter employment. We commissioned this
research project to provide key evidence for London West Learning and Skills
Council’s ongoing learning strategy.”

Quentin Reade

 

 

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