Women key to workforce strategies

Skills shortage solutions

The Diversity Council of Australia claims women are the key to over coming worker shortages and underemployment.

Nareen Young, Diversity Council Australia’s CEO, watched the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s address to CEDA this week where the PM spoke of the workforce participation issues impacting the economy.

The PM spoke of her concern over: “the large number of working-age Australians, possibly as many as two million, who stand outside the full-time labour force, above and beyond those registered as unemployed.”

“Around 800,000 are in part-time jobs but want to work more. Another 800,000 are outside the labour market, including discouraged job seekers,” the PM told a luncheon in Melbourne.

Ms Young says women are the key to turning these worrying figures around.

“Many of these potential or underemployed workers are women – women who find it very difficult to get back into the workforce after having a family, or women who are working but are frustrated by the lack of opportunities and recognition of their skills and talents,” Ms Young says.

“DCA’s major study into the attitudes of Australians at work, Working for the Future, found that flexible working is the top employment driver for parents and many workers had considered resigning due to lack of flexibility.

“Moreover, care-givers were consistently rated higher on management capability than their non-care-giving colleagues.

“Our study clearly shows that employers need to make better use of female talent, and that this can be achieved through having an increased focus on flexible workplace practices – in particular by improving the availability and quality of part-time work for women.

“Management capability on providing and managing part-time work also needs to improve,” Ms Young says.

Ms Young says there is other strong evidence to support the DCA’s view including Goldman Sachs JB Were’s landmark report, Australia’s Hidden Resource: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation.

That report estimated that closing the gap between male and female employment would boost Australia’s GDP by 11 per cent and increase economic activity by over 20 per cent.

DCA also called for the Gillard government to announce outcomes from its review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act (EOWWA) and Agency commenced in 2009.

“DCA and its members believe the only way forward is to rework the legislation and administering body so that both can have a significant capacity to improve outcomes for women, and for the economy as a whole,” Ms Young told media.

CareerOne, February 4, 2011

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