Quarter of women on maternity leave offered less training opportunities than colleagues

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Quarter of women on maternity leave not offered same training opportunities as colleagues

One fifth of women (20 percent) feel overlooked by their employer during maternity leave and though three quarters (75 percent) see training as a key way to prepare for their return to work, nearly a quarter (24 percent) are not offered the same training opportunities as their colleagues. According to the new research from AVADO almost a third of women (32 percent) who’ve been on maternity leave in the past three years say they’d have felt more prepared to return to the workforce if they’d had the option to do some training; one in three (29 percent) would have felt better connected with their team members and for a fifth (24 percent), training would have allowed them to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in their industry. During maternity leave, an employee and employer can agree to have up to ten Keeping in Touch (KIT) days, which may include training, but the research found that just one in ten (16 percent) were given the option to use these for training. This is despite the fact that 72 percent of women see it as one of the key ways to help them successfully head back to work after having a family.

The research reveals that women on maternity leave are looking to bolster their skills in specific areas. Leadership and IT skills came top of their training list (16 percent), followed by people management (15 percent) and communication skills (14 percent). Four fifths (81 percent) also say they’d like the flexibility to undertake training online so they can complete courses from their own home and in their own time.

With an estimated half a million women currently taking a career break, businesses risk losing out on a huge swath of the talent pool if women don’t feel appreciated. Yet a fifth (20 percent) of women feel overlooked by their employer during maternity leave and a further 18 percent felt undervalued and as if they’d never worked at the company.

For employers, the research also reveals it’s all about offering women a choice – while many are keen to stay connected to the workforce, some would prefer not to. A third (32 percent) value the opportunity to use their maternity leave to bond and care for their child and almost half (46 percent) had no interest in acquiring new skills during this time.

Amy Crawford, Managing Director of AVADO said; said; “Maternity leave is a delicate time for employees and employers which is why it’s essential that both parties openly talk about how best to navigate this period of change. While some women want to take time away from work to focus on their family, many feel abandoned and like a forgotten resource the minute they walk out the door.

“If businesses want to make sure they’re retaining the best talent, they need to make sure women feel valued while they’re away. One way is by offering new mothers training opportunities while they’re taking a career break and with the advent of online learning, women have the flexibility to complete courses from their own home and in their own time.

“The impact of training on confidence levels can’t be underestimated. Women tell us that during maternity leave they lose confidence in their working ability. Training not only helps them to feel more prepared to return to the workforce, safe in the knowledge that they are better qualified, but businesses also benefit from new skills.”