Thursday, July 29, 2010

Work-Life Balance - Where Are You?

To cut a tediously long and dull story short, I've been trying for nearly a year now to find a job. I think the count is around 150 jobs applied for, around 15 interviews and 0 offers.

I even took up the Government on its very generous offer to fund retraining in order to become more employable, so I completed the Cert IV in Training and Assessment, with the lofty goal in mind of becoming a hospitality trainer. I already had administrative qualifications as well as years of experience in both administration and function managment roles, so this seemed like the perfect next step in my career.

Sadly it seems that my hard-earned bit of paper is utterly worthless without experience under my belt. The fact that I have actually "unofficially" trained countless hospitality staff on the job over the years appears to mean nothing. I even approached several organisations regarding unpaid work experience and didn't even get a return phone call from any of them.

Yes, I am a single mother. Yes, this does have its challenges. Yes, it does mean that I can't be quite as flexible in working hours as I rely on childcare centres and have to accommodate their hours of operation.

On the other hand, my years as a single mother have also given me valuable skills - I am now the Queen of Multitasking, a very quick learner and can type like a speed demon even with one hand, as practiced whilst simultaneously breastfeeding and surfing the internet! I've also developed more patience and a much deeper sense of compassion for others.

Many employers seem to have either no idea or no interest in the vast pool of talent lurking in homes across Australia in the form of mothers, many of whom are keen to re-enter the workforce. All we ask for is a little flexibility, whether it's with working hours, the opportunity to work from home, or a combination of the two.

I know I'm not alone in my dilemma - I know many intelligent, well-educated and professional women who, after taking time out to have their children, are struggling to find positions which allow sufficient flexibility in order to find that much-discussed "work-life balance". Granted, I do also know quite a few who have found the perfect role, or who cope beautifully with standard full-time hours, but they seem in the minority.

As election day looms, I have been thinking about how our next government can address this issue, and all I can think of is to promote policies encouraging (or requiring) businesses to take a more family-friendly approach. Yes, I can see why businesses would want to hire someone with no restrictions on their time or energy, however the cost to society in funding pensions and FTB benefits for unemployed parents is extremely high, so surely a balance can be found.

I hope so, anyway!



Anonymous said...

you are the best 1............................................................

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