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Survey: Women Often Have to Change Career Path Following a Break to Look After Children

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Women who take a career break to look after children often face having to retrain or take a job in a different sector with nearly half finding it impossible to find a job in their field, according to Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey.

The survey of over 2,300 mums found 48 per cent of mums who have taken a career break cannot find a job in their field, and 21 per cent that secured a job in their field had to take one at a lower level. Some 16 per cent found a job in their field which was not as flexible as they would have liked, and just 15 per cent said they were able to find a job in their field quite easily.

The survey also shows the high number of women who are retraining after having children. Some 65 per cent are interested in retraining and almost a third have retrained in the last year.

One woman said: “I only took three months off after my maternity leave ended and have had to accept a less senior position.  I was unable to find a job at the same level due to employers believing my ‘other commitments’ would impact my ability to be flexible and perform my role effectively. I eventually got a job only by saying that I had taken a career break, rather than returning from maternity leave.”

Another mother reports: “I took an 18-month career break following redundancy and have since taken jobs paying only 60 per cent of my previous salary. This was due to a combination of what was available, what was a commutable distance for me, and what I dared apply for, since I’d lost quite a bit of confidence in the process.”

The survey also suggests that finances are not the only reason women return to work after having children. Although this is cited as the top reason, with 69 per cent of respondents saying that money was a ‘very important factor’ and 25 per cent reporting that it was ‘important’, many said that ultimately, they liked their job.

Having adult company, liking their job and getting out of the house also rated highly. Some 38 per cent said liking their jobs was a very important reason for going back to work and 47 per cent said it was an important factor. Sixty one per cent thought that returning to work was important or very important to secure adult company, compared with 55 per cent who said it benefitted them to get out of the house. Some 61 per cent reported they would work even if money was not an issue.

Gillian Nissim, founder of Workingmums.co.uk, said: “Many mums struggle to get back to work after taking a career break which means retention is a win-win for both mums and employers. Interestingly, there has been an increased focus on women returners in the last year with several organisations having launched their own returner programmes to help support women who have taken a career break back to work. They argue that many women have years of experience and represent a huge and often overlooked talent pool.  Far from the stereotype, they are also often highly motivated. The survey statistic that 61 per cent would work even if money was not an issue shows that sense of commitment as well as the fact that they derive a lot of enjoyment from their work.”

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