Working mums are needed to fill skills gap, say UK firms

Eight in 10 UK firms believe that their industry misses out by not employing women after maternity leave, and two-thirds say that returning mothers bring skills and experience which are difficult to find in the current market.

The research, published by workspace provider Regus ahead of International Women’s Day, also reveals that two-fifths (41 per cent) anticipate hiring more working mothers in the next two years, up from 26 per cent when Regus asked businesses the same question in 2011.

“It is very positive that two in five UK firms intend to hire more women returning after maternity leave but they often find that juggling professional and family duties can be very demanding, if not impossible,” says Celia Donne, vice president for global operations at Regus.

“More employers are realising that flexible working is critical to helping women back into the workplace, especially the option of working locally from a business centre or ‘third place’ rather than commuting.”

The 2,200-strong poll of business owners and senior managers shows that flexible hours, working closer to home, part-time work and the option to video conference are the top strategies to get more mothers back into the workforce.

In particular, six in ten report that more women are demanding to work remotely when they return to the workforce. Just under half (49 per cent) say working closer to home is a key incentive, rather than working from home, pointing to the suitability of local ‘third place’ work hubs.

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