More help needed for mums returning to work

A lady carrying a baby.
A lady carrying a baby. PHOTO: ST FILE

I am glad to read about the Ministry of Manpower's efforts on career mobility (MOM to focus on career mobility: Josephine Teo, April 17).

As May is the month to celebrate both Labour Day and Mother's Day, I want to highlight the concerns of women who have taken time off work to become caregivers - in particular, the group of stay-home mums who are now in their 40s and 50s.

There are many women in this age group who wish to go back to the workplace and build a future for themselves over the next 10 to 20 years before retirement. Their children are likely to be teenagers or young adults and their parents may be in their 60s or 70s, and so would be unlikely to need much eldercare.

To be clear, not every mum returning to work has to worry about childcare or eldercare.

However, even if a few hundred such mothers return to the workforce each year, there would be thousands available to meet the nation's manpower needs.

Their return to the workforce will enable them to fulfil their dreams, build retirement adequacy, and reduce the risk of depression that some parents experience when confronted with empty-nest syndrome - when their children have moved out.

There are some women who prefer to job-share, depending on time, portfolio or workload, while others are keen on full-time work.

My hope is that MOM will start a special registry for mums who are ready to rejoin the workforce. I would also ask that the Government better understand the needs and challenges these women face when they return to work.

My hope is that MOM will start a special registry for mums who are ready to rejoin the workforce. I would also ask that the Government better understand the needs and challenges these women face when they return to work.

Focus groups can be conducted to understand these women's aspirations rather than channelling them to jobs that are a weak match for their skills or interests.

I also hope employers such as the civil service and large companies will take the lead in setting up programmes to fill vacancies with mums who are trying to rejoin the workforce.

This Labour Day and Mother's Day, let us champion the hopes of mums who wish to enjoy "work-life success" through the different seasons of their lives, and let us hope that Singapore becomes a better workplace for mums.

Yeo Miu Ean

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline 'More help needed for mums returning to work'. Print Edition | Subscribe