Paid maternity leave will combat skills crisis: APESMA

Work life balance key to staff retention

Six months paid maternity leave is one way to curb the high female churn rates in the engineering field, claims the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia.

APESMA, whose members include IT professionals, made a submission last week to the Productivity Commission's enquiry into paid maternity leave.

The Productivity Commission will be asked to look at the economic and social costs and benefits of paid maternity, paternity and parental leave and will report back to the federal government by February 2009.

APESMA's national women's coordinator, Erin Wood, said research amongst its 25,000 members shows female engineers are leaving the profession 38.8 percent faster than men.

"How we engage and stay engaged with our workforce in an environment of skills shortage is important. Because paid leave arrangements form an element of that, and have been introduced in most OECD countries, there has been a lot of research on how paid maternity leave can assist retention of skilled staff," she said.

According to its submission to the Commission, "women are leaving the engineering profession faster than men and feedback from APESMA members indicates that one of the major reasons for this is the difficulty faced balancing work and family".

"The workforce into the future is one where the balancing of work and family issue are what young men and women want us to address," Wood said.

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