Young mothers can lead the response to the national skills shortage, says the National Retail Association (NRA), provided they’re given the right support.
Responding to recent calls for changes to allow pensioners and retirees to work longer, the retail lobby group said Australia had tens of thousands of willing workers who were under-employed because they could not access or afford child care.
“Almost all Australian businesses are experiencing difficulties in attracting and retaining quality workers,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb says.
“But at the same time, we have so many young women who would relish the opportunity to get back to their jobs if the cost of caring for young children wasn’t so prohibitive.”
Ms Lamb has urged the federal government to fast-track its commitment to make childcare more affordable for 96 per cent of the population.
“The retail sector is one of Australia’s largest employers with around 1.2 million staff. Around 55 per cent are women, and retail is the largest employer of young people,” she says.
“The skills shortage in retail and hospitality could be a thing of the past if more women were able to afford childcare.”
Ms Lamb says fast-tracking the government’s commitments around childcare would not only benefit the retail sector.
“Regardless of the industry, encouraging and supporting young mothers to return to the workforce will be good for them, good for business and good for government revenue,” she says.
“There’s no reason that retirees cannot also help fill the gap, but the focus should be on helping younger women stay engaged with their careers and investing in a long-term solution to the skills crisis.”