Millions of mums prevented from returning to work after having a baby due to out of date skills

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Millions of mums prevented from returning to work after having a baby due to out of date skills, according to a new report from Digital Mums.

The report reveals the ‘mum skills gap’ has stopped 21 per cent from going back to work after having a career break. The survey of 2,000 mums by One Poll reveals that 28 per cent said it had prevented them from applying for jobs, equating to almost two million mums.* Meanwhile 18 per cent said it has stopped them getting a specific job they had applied for.

Just under half of mums reveal they have done no formal training in the last three years with cost being the biggest barrier. Twenty-three percent of mums said they would be more likely to upskill if the Government paid course fees, followed by 15 per cent who cited employer financial support and 12 per cent who would like to see their employer reduce workload to free up time.

A total of 20 per cent of respondents to the survey revealed they are currently out of work, more than five times the national unemployment rate. Despite well publicised campaigns to boost flexibility in the workplace, the inability to preserve a work/life balance remains the biggest challenge in returning to work – a challenge for 52 per cent of respondents. Arranging childcare comes next at 49 per cent, followed by flexibility, 43 per cent and lack of confidence 23 per cent.

For millennial mums mental health is a particular challenge, stopping 26 per cent of 18-30 year-olds returning to work, compared to 17 per cent on average for all mums. Meanwhile twenty two per cent of millennial mums said they haven’t done any training due to mental health challenges.

Digital Mums is calling on mums to ‘learn in’ this Autumn by training for the skills they need and is calling on the government, employers and learning providers to do more to support them.

Digital Mums’ recommendations include the government should invest more in adult learning and trial ‘back to work’ bursaries for women returners; learning providers should design courses with mothers in mind and provide online mobile-optimised lessons where possible; employers should provide a training bursary to all women going off on maternity leave in order to refresh skills and rebuild confidence; employers should provide flexible working arrangements for mothers undergoing training to ensure they can take advantage of the opportunity; learning providers should encourage mothers onto the learning ladder by providing free taster lessons and courses to overcome the main barrier of cost.

Speaking about the research, co-founder Kathryn Tyler, said, “Our research highlights a very real challenge for mums wanting to go back to work with close to two million negatively impacted.”

“Career break shouldn’t mean career broken and this autumn Digital Mums is supporting mums to ‘learn in’, upskill and apply for that new job.”

“With cost a big barrier we are also calling on Government and employers to do their bit to narrow the mums’ skills gap and support a huge segment of the workforce.”

“Although there have been improvements with flexible working we shouldn’t be complacent.”

“Our survey highlights the ongoing challenges for so many mums in finding work that works for them as well as raising the next generation.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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