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Working women key: CCI

ALMOST 120,000 extra workers could be made available in Western Australia if women received more incentives to join the workforce, according to a new report from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.

The report, titled 'Women in the Workforce', found up to 80 per cent of the expected 150,000-worker shortfall in WA could be met by lifting the state's labour force participation rate for females, to match the average of the top 10 OECD countries in this area.

Nationally, the number of extra workers could reach 1.3 million if the participation rate was lifted uniformly.

However, the report also found that balancing work and family commitments, as well as outdated skills and a lack of confidence, remained major barriers to women joining or returning to the workforce.

The report makes several recommendations to address these issues, such as allowing childcare to be salary sacrificed and introducing a paid parental leave scheme of 14 weeks, administered and funded by the government.

This would be paid at the rate of the federal minimum wage, with no mandatory obligation for employers to top up payments.

Other attraction and retention tools suggested for companies in the resources sector included family friendly rostering patterns, better onsite accommodation, increased childcare availability in remote areas, and leadership programs for women.

The report was partly based on a CCI survey of more than 1,000 female employees, conducted in April, which found 82 per cent of respondents favoured flexible working hours as the most important attraction and retention policy, followed by equal pay (about 65 per cent), career development (60 per cent), training and education (59 per cent) and paid maternity leave (57 per cent).

Other incentives, such as cash benefits, affordable childcare and pay equality were also recommended.

In November last year, the CCI released its 'Building Human Capital' report, which found WA will need a further 400,000 workers over the next decade if economic growth is maintained at the rate of the past six years.

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