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When you take time out of the workforce for a number of years to have children and see them through the formative years of childhood, it's natural to feel a little intimidated when it comes to getting back into paid employment.
For many, the rapidly changing employment landscape means the jobs they once held are either not there or have changed so much due to technology, they are no longer recognisable. Understandably this can often mean proficient, hardworking, organised parents can be left feeling there are no options or place for them in the workforce.
For others, having children and maternity leave is the catalyst for changing careers. The work break gives you time to think about what you want in life, and what your flexibility requirements are going to be when you get back from maternity leave. Maternity leave might be a great opportunity to do some further study in anticipation of your return to work. This may be the perfect time to update your skills.
The excellent news for mothers in particular returning to the workforce is many of the hot employment sectors for 2015 and beyond are areas that women thrive in, particularly those women who are competent in household management, caring for family and multitasking. These industries include, but are not limited to, business, nursing and healthcare, education, information technology and humanities and social sciences. Plus the skills and attributes you use raising a family - problem solving, creativity, lateral thinking, spontaneity, organisation, people management, collaboration and delegation - are all transferable to these and many other sectors.
The first thing you need to do is scour the job sites and identify which jobs you’d like to apply for. Review the position descriptions thoroughly to see if you have the required skills. If you find that you have skill gaps or your knowledge is out-dated, you may need to consider doing some further education or upskilling.
As a nurturer you are well equipped for direct support roles but these skills also lend themselves to indirect support areas like finance and administration, and a range of professional roles.
For administrative roles you will typically need to have great computer, typing and organisational skills, and be an excellent multi-tasker. Administration roles include: administrative officers, receptionists, human resources administrators and data entry.
You could even consider a role in human resources as you probably have ample transferable experience such as efficient time management and organisational skills, the ability to thrive under pressure, exceptional people skills and an analytical mind.
Bookkeeping and accounting jobs can often be done from home – or you can start your own contract bookkeeping business. While the end of the financial year and tax time can be busy, the rest of the year you should be able to find the balance between work and family life.
Healthcare and nursing
The health, nursing and the disability and community sector are all industries which openly welcome people juggling family life and a return to work. These sectors recognise the skills you've developed in raising your family can be relevant at work, and in certain situations they may even count towards training and qualifications.
There are a number of healthcare related careers you can pursue – technician, nurse, doctor, carer – many of which have opportunities to work flexible hours. Aged care has been a growth industry for some time due to the ageing of Australia’s population. Disability services are set to explode as well, with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to be introduced Australia wide in the near future.
To teach in a public school you need a four-year Bachelor of Education, or if you already have a three-year undergraduate degree in the discipline you want to teach in, you can do a Master of Teaching which takes between one and two years to complete.
If you are over 20-years-of-age (mature age) you may sit a tertiary admission test to qualify for a university place if you have not done Year 12.
It's worth considering many people can get recognition of prior learning for business acumen from experience when they retrain as teachers. And the upside to this profession is while you can expect longer hours than the typical school day, you will at least be guaranteed school holidays off to spend with your own children.
Computing and information technology is one industry that never stands still. If you were involved in the IT industry before having children you may need to revisit your qualifications before applying for roles.
Alternatively this is an ever expanding sector and one worth considering as women are being highly sought after as the scarcity of IT workers continues to grow.
With this sector of the job market expected to continue to grow in the future, positions will become available in the fields of computing, the Internet and Information Technology.
Roles to consider in information technology include: web producer/designer, programmer, systems administrator, project manager and engineer.
Humanities and social sciences
Here's a sector that can be win, win, win for primary carers. If you have always fancied yourself a writer it may be time to try this as a job. Here you get to express yourself creatively, work flexible hours and many positions allow you to work from home - no daily commute required.
There are many ways for a returning to work parent to be a writer – including freelancing, technical writing (helping people understand science, technology and other concepts) or blogging.
If you have had a career in writing maybe a change to editing others work might be the perfect way to return to work. Again this can be a flexible job where a parents can work to deadlines rather than spending 9-to-5 in the office. It can often be done from home, allowing you to work at times that suit you, and frees you to manage your own schedule most of the time.
There is help available for mothers who can seek and apply for government grant programs right around Australia to help them in returning to work or to get employment opportunities. The Australian government has specific grant programs. Called the Mother's returning to work grant, it is for single mothers and other eligible women, who want financial assistance to enrol or pay for training courses, programs and more, to help hone their skills and create job opportunities.
There is also the Productivity Places Program which is a federal government initiative, run through the states and territories.