Singapore, 26 July 2019: In recent studies published in Singapore, the lack of proper childcare options for women, especially those of lower income families, has resulted in low labour force participation rates.
This is an overlooked problem on a global scale affecting three generations of women – mothers, grandmothers and daughters. Mothers from lower income households often lack the education and skills required for office or corporate jobs. Therefore resulting in many turning to shift work in service industries such as F&B, retail and hospitality.
However, many miss out on employment opportunities as childcare centres and facilities only operate on weekdays and during office hours or charge high fees for late pick-ups.
According to the Labour Force in Singapore 2016 Report, 183 Singaporean women aged 25 to 64 could not participate in the workforce due to their domestic responsibilities and 24.5% of them cited childcare and the main reason for staying out of the workforce.
This may be a long-standing problem, however organisations in Singapore can give these mothers a new lease on life by simply introducing more flexible work practices. As an example, retailer GAP introduced “Stable and Core Scheduling” in stores across the state of California in 2017. They identified reliable mothers within their workforce and assigned them to specific shifts every week.
This simple adjustment resulted in lower turnover and costs, a decrease in voluntary resignations from mothers and a decrease in the workload for scheduling managers. In addition, it also resulted in an increase in employees’ overall happiness, a larger local candidate pool to hire from and better business stability.
Singaporean charity, Daughters Of Tomorrow (DOT) aims to do just that for women in Singapore, to empower them with confidence and practical support towards gainful employment. The charity with Institute of Public Character (IPC) status works with beneficiaries including females aged 20 to 60 from low-income families (surviving on $200 to $500 per capita per month).
Fannie Lim, Head of Programmes at DOT is optimistic about the benefits these changes can bring to Singaporean families, “When you help one mother, you are improving the trajectory of life for her and of those around her. If employers in Singapore can take the first step to adopt innovative HR and be flexible with their hiring practices, this will create an impact in lives we have never seen before.”
Through sustained employment, women in their skills-training, employment-bridging and support programmes have restored belief in themselves and gained a strong social support network to help them though domestic obligations.
As part of their partnership with DOT, Michael Page Singapore organised employment workshops with women from the beneficiary. Participants went through a career guidance talk and attended interview sessions with hiring managers from fragrance retailer Coty and F&B chain Brotzeit in an effort to secure jobs. From this effort, DOT beneficiaries received two job offers leading to one mum finding permanent employment.
Jon Goldstein, Regional Director, PageGroup says, “Educating employers in Singapore is one of our key actions when helping mothers from low-income families find jobs. When they recognise that childcare is a real challenge which working mothers need to overcome, we are hoping to see changes in their hiring practices which will address the concerns. We need to empower them with gainful employment”.
While retraining and upskilling is essential to keep up with the growing demands of the workplace, many women are unable to find the time or means to pursue higher education or training courses due to their domestic responsibilities.
In an effort to address all the concerns of mothers from lower-income families, advocating mum-friendly hours across the different companies and hiring managers was essential to the success to the career guidance talk. Building a more inclusive employment culture will enable mothers with the opportunities to provide for their families.