• Chief Executive Women CEO, Sam Mostyn AO.
    Chief Executive Women CEO, Sam Mostyn AO.

New economic research released by Chief Executive Women has found that increasing women’s participation in the paid workforce would address Australia’s current skills shortage and have long-lasting impact on productivity in Australia.

The analysis, conducted by Impact Economics and Policy, shows that unlocking women’s workforce participation could fill job vacancies and address critical skills shortages predicted between now and 2026.

The report found that halving the workforce participation gap between men and women would represent an additional 500,000 full-time skilled workers with post school qualifications.

Engaging women in paid work at the same rate as men could unlock an additional one million full-time skilled workers in Australia.

The National Skills Commission estimates the need for 1.2 million additional workers across the economy by 2026.

Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn said the report, Addressing Australia’s Critical Skill Shortages: Unlocking Women’s Economic Participation, provides further evidence that it is vital to increase women’s workforce participation for Australia’s economic prosperity.

“Women are Australia’s most untapped resource, and these findings reinforce the need to prioritise reform that supports women to fully participate in our economy,” she said.

“We are facing record job vacancies and growing skills shortages, yet we have a ready workforce, which is highly educated and skilled that is sidelined by powerful barriers to their participation.

“We must focus on policy that will enable women to participate in decent, paid work and to help solve Australia’s skills shortage.”

To help support women’s participation in our economy, Chief Executive Women calls for investment in well-paid jobs in care sectors, affordable and accessible early education and care, expansion of Paid Parental Leave for all parents and to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment.

In addition to workforce participation data, the report outlines the impact of low wages as a significant barrier for women engaging in paid work.

New gender pay gap analysis shows women in female-dominated industries consistently earn less than those working in male-dominated industries:

• Workers with a bachelor degree or above – earn 30 per cent less per hour in female-dominated industries compared to male-dominated industries.

• Workers with a Certificate III/IV – earn 36 per cent less per hour in female-dominated industries compared to male-dominated industries.

• Workers with no post-school qualifications – earn 19 per cent  less per hour in female-dominated industries compared to male-dominated industries.

“Women in Australia are the most educated in the world, yet there’s a significant disincentive to participate in paid work and as demonstrated by the data, a pay gap between women-dominated industries and those dominated by men,” Mostyn said.

Australia has one of the biggest gaps between average male and female participation and hours in paid work in the OECD.

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