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Over half of mums have retrained within the last three years, in part due to difficulties finding jobs in their previous field of work, according to Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey.
The survey, sponsored by Care.com, the world’s largest online care destination and based on the views of more than 2,500 mums, found some 60% of mums said they were interested in retraining and 51% had retrained in the last three years.
The number who had retrained in the last year [27%] was up 4% on last year. Sixty-five per cent said they were more likely to retrain if courses were flexible.
The impetus to retrain was in part fuelled by mums finding it increasingly difficult to re-enter their previous field of work.
The number who had found a job but not in their previous field was up 7% on Workingmums.co.uk’ s 2012 annual survey to 19% and the number who had taken a job in their field at a lower level was up 6% to 19%.
Some 40% said they could not find a suitable position in their field. Some 10% had found a position in their field, but said it lacked flexibility.
Many women had also considered setting up their own business or taking out a franchise. Some 57% said they had considered starting a business or franchise, with 33% working on a plan or in the early stages of setting up.
Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “Our figures show a very significant number of women are seeking retraining after having children and that there is a big appetite for more flexible courses that fit around family life.
The survey also shows the challenges women face to re-enter their previous field after taking a career break. Often these women have years of experience and have been working at senior levels.
Organisations are missing out on a huge resource if they don’t look seriously at ways to retain women in the first place and to attract them back.
Our research consistently shows lack of flexible jobs is the main barrier to mums getting back to work. The most progressive employers have significantly improved their recruitment and retention figures for women through addressing this issue and some have initiated innovative programmes for women who have taken career breaks. Other employers are still failing to understand how such initiatives are mutually beneficial.”
One woman who has changed sector since taking a career break is Kay Ball, head of sales at Pitchup.com, an online booking site for caravanning and holiday parks. She was in a senior position at recruitment firm Michael Page until she became pregnant.
After freelancing for a while she took a four-year career break. She found a flexible new job in sales with Pitchup.com through Workingmums.co.uk and due to her experience in recruitment was soon promoted to head of sales. Many of Pitchup.com’s staff are working mums.
Kay says: “They have really embraced flexible working and it works for them. Our team is really conscientious and because they work from home there are not so many distractions as in the office. I really feel businesses who do not explore the opportunities and potential of working mums are missing a trick. There is so much talent around.”