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Half of women would consider not having children because of risk to their career

The survey amongst women of childbearing age* also found that two-thirds of women (67%) are concerned about the impact that having children might have on their career. Half of women who don’t currently have children (49%) feel their current career doesn’t offer them the flexibility they would need to care for a family.

The survey of 2,000 women, half with children and half without, also found that half of mothers have missed at least one milestone in their child’s life due to work: 16% of mothers missed their child’s first word, 15% missed their first steps, and one in five (20%) have had to miss a sports day or school play because of their job. Over half of mothers (55%) admitted that balancing childcare and work has been a barrier to staying in work, with one in five (20%) stating that a lack of support from their employer has made life as a working mum more difficult.

The pressures on working mothers have also taken their toll on maternity leave of the mothers questioned, almost four in 10 mums (38%) took six months or less as maternity leave. Overall, financial reasons were cited as the biggest concern and main cause for returning (62%). Worryingly, the survey indicates fear of losing their job is the biggest driver for almost a third of mothers returning to work (30%).

AAT Career Coach, Aimee Bateman, commented, “AAT’s findings, whilst sad, are unfortunately not surprising. In my work I have come across a lot of women who worry about balancing their care and career commitments or who have decided to retrain as their current role provides little flexibility. This is a shame as working mums are brilliant employees who can often get more done in less time. This is what is important: the quality of work people produce, not the number of hours that they sit at their desk.”

The research found that many women are considering re-training as a way to give them greater flexibility once they are parents. Almost a quarter of women (24%) have changed their career after having children, with a further two-thirds (65%) saying re-training is something they would consider. The most frequent reason cited was the option to work flexible hours (64%), followed by wanting or needing better pay (48%).

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that 42% of working women aged 16-64 work time hours and that in 2013, 72% of mothers were in work.** A study by the Fawcett Society in August found that since 2008, almost a million extra women have moved into types of employment that are typically low paid and insecure and that, v  one in four of all female workers are now classified as on low pay.***

Bateman continued, “While there is obviously an issue in the nation’s workplaces, there are options that women can explore. There are careers which can fit around caring needs, including those within the accounting and finance profession.”

AAT’s statistics show that over a third (35%) of its new students describe themselves as career changers. Almost two thirds (63.5%) of new students who began the AAT course this year were female.

Taking an AAT qualification can help advance or change careers by helping people learn some of the most in-demand skills in the world, and provide learners with a professional status they can be proud of that is respected and internationally recognised.  Former AAT students have also found that taking an AAT course can provide an easier route to managing their care and career commitments.

One former AAT student who can attest to this is AAT member Yvonne Cookson, who runs Mossley Tax Shop. When she and her husband separated she decided to study with AAT to gain a career that would enable her to adequately support her two daughters. In 2008 she set up her own practice, Mossley Tax Shop, and in six years it has grown to have 650 clients throughout the North-West of England. She said:  “I would never have thought when I was a single parent so long ago that I would have achieved what I have today. Studying with the AAT has made an extremely positive contribution to improving my life. AAT has given me the flexibility and opportunity to progress by not only gaining my qualifications but also giving me a career that I have been able to make work for me, not the other way round.”

More than a third (38%) of women who have had children said that they would be interested in exploring a career in professional services, accountancy and bookkeeping, or finance, which can offer flexible working patterns with strong earning potential. To help support this further, AAT has launched a new suite of qualifications in skills such as bookkeeping, accounting and business that are specifically designed to provide flexible learning which offer great employment prospects.

The AAT prides itself on providing flexible qualifications that can help people, including mums, change or advance their careers. AAT’s newest qualifications start from as little as &pound150 and include a Level 2 Certificate in Bookkeeping, Level 2 in Accounting and Business, and a Level 2 in Computerised Accounting.

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