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‘Employer-supported childcare is vital to addressing skills gap’

As the cost of living crisis and rising childcare fees continue to force more mothers to leave work, Martin Veasey Talent Solutions has asserted that it’s never been more important for businesses to provide employer-supported childcare – or risk facing the brunt of a deepening skills gap.

It comes as a recent report reveals that one in ten working mothers – equating to an astonishing 249, 121 women – are considering leaving their jobs due to a lack of adequate childcare support. This is shown as women are 1.4 times more likely to feel strained by childcare costs compared to fathers.

Over the past year it is estimated that childcare costs have risen by nearly 6 per cent, taking the average price of a full-time nursery place for a toddler under two to £14,836 per year. As a result, the consensus is that it no longer makes financial sense for many mothers who pay for childcare to work. Further compounding the issue is the ‘great return’ as more employees stipulate in-office working days, adding to the potential financial burden. 

Roheela Khan, recruitment operations director at global talent specialist Martin Veasey Talent Solution comments: “While it’s all well and good having progressive diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies in place, the reality is that there is still a huge barrier to overcome in terms of the childcare cost crisis.

“The fundamental issue is that women are generally more likely to oversee childcare arrangements and the like after having a baby. Then we have the ‘motherhood penalty’ where women are still likely to earn lower wages and have less parity than fathers and non-mothers. Add to that spiralling childcare costs and a deepening  cost-of-living crisis and it’s easy to see why so many women feel forced out of work. Clearly, this is a situation which is becoming increasingly precarious and much more needs to be done to properly support women to balance their work and caring responsibilities.

“In terms of recommendations, obviously childcare subsidies or onsite childcare facilities are a huge help. Next, for example, has its own on-site nursery “Next Steps Nursery” that currently holds an “Outstanding” Ofsted rating. Equally, flexible working, including the option to work from home, can prove vital in helping busy parents fit their work around their childcare arrangements. It may sound obvious too but simply ensuring an inclusive and nurturing culture where parents are able to juggle work around their parental duties – be it a poorly child, a parent’s evening or sport’s day – without feeling judged or that their professional capacity will compromised is vital.”

At the same time, Britain is on track to be the only major economy to shrink this year, amid rising interest rates, higher taxes and a vast workers shortage.

Roheela adds: “Ultimately, addressing the childcare cost crisis is not just a moral imperative but vital to our economic future.

“We must remember, after all, that the need for a female talent injection has never been greater. Many key sectors continue to face a severe skills shortage meaning that the female half of the working population is a much needed resource which we can ill afford to lose sight of. In this way, investing in high quality childcare support as part of employment infrastructure will not only help drive better equality and narrow the gender wage gap but help boost our economy.”