Further education authority SOLAS has highlighted the “untapped potential” of 16,000 women willing to join the workforce in Ireland.
The ‘Women on Home Duties’ report found that:
- 218,000 women between the ages of 20 and 64 are currently not participating in the workforce.
- Of those, 16,000 could be attracted to join the workforce with the right supports.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Nikki Gallagher, Director of Communications and Secretariat with SOLAS, said: “Women who are not currently working represent a major source of untapped potential in terms of addressing skills shortages. Our research shows there are 16,000 women who could potentially be attracted to return to work.
“To entice this group to enter or re-enter the labour market, we need to make sure the right supports are in place for them. Flexible working models, further education and training courses, apprenticeships, and returner programmes can all be offered to encourage women to upskill and reskill, gain confidence, and ultimately return to work.”
When women begin thinking about returning to work, they can feel very disconnected, and lacking in confidence and self-worth.
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for encouraging more women back to work
Ms. Gallagher said that contrary to popular belief, childcare was not the sole reason why some women opt not to work.
“There’s a common perception that women opt out of the workforce primarily because of childcare duties while their children are young,” she said. “However, the research we’re publishing today shows only one-third of those not currently working have children under the age of five.
“Low levels of educational attainment, and long periods out of work, can also impact on a woman’s decision to remain at home. Our research shows over 56% of women on home duties have upper secondary education or less. This group are less likely than non-working college graduates to have previous work experience. Of those with previous experience, 63% have not worked in the past eight years.”
A range of supports are needed, including targeted measures focused on upskilling, confidence-building and mentoring.
Of the 218,000 women currently deemed to be on home duties:
- 122,500 have upper secondary education or less;
- 57,000 have third-level qualifications;
- A further 31,700 hold FET (Further Education and Training) qualifications.
Speaking at the launch of the research, Sonya Lennon of Dress for Success Dublin said: “When women begin thinking about returning to work, they can feel very disconnected, and lacking in confidence and self-worth. ”
“There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution to the issue of encouraging more women back to work. A range of supports are needed, including better childcare offerings, flexible and remote working options, and targeted measures focused on upskilling, confidence-building and mentoring.”
“These measures needs to be accompanied by a shift towards inclusive thinking, allowing these women to meet their potential, not just for their own benefit and that of their families, but also of their employers and our society.”