A new international workplace survey has found that more than half of Australian parents would be prepared to take on more paid work if quality childcare was accessible.
A total of 53% of parents said they would work longer hours or be more productive at work if they could find quality childcare. Many of those who want to do more work are highly trained and wanting to resume their careers.
Kelly Services Global Workforce Index sought the views of approximately 70,000 people in 28 countries including Australia.
Reflecting the crucial role of childcare, 87% of Australian respondents stated that childcare was important to them.
A big barrier to finding appropriate childcare was cost, identified by 39% of parents, followed by quality of the service, cited by 31% and waiting lists (19%).
Of the 28 countries surveyed, Australia ranked seventh highest in terms of costly childcare. Younger parents were particularly affected by childcare costs.
The survey shows there is a groundswell of people who are willing to enter the workforce or be more productive if only they can find adequate childcare.
The survey shows that typically women are the most burdened by a lack of suitable childcare, but there are also a surprising number of men who are affected. Some 60% of women say they would commence work or work longer if there were suitable childcare, compared with 45% of men.
Of those who would be prepared to do more work, a significant number are highly qualified, with 37% holding university qualifications.
Finding the right childcare can be a daunting exercise for many who want to balance their family and working lives.
Many of those who want to engage more fully in the workplace are university educated or have had successful careers prior to having children, so they can be highly productive once they resume work. These people represent an important national resource.
There has been considerable investment in their education and training but their real value is being lost to the community and the economy because of a lack of childcare opportunities. Employers can often help by providing family friendly workplaces, flexible hours or opportunities to work from home.
The survey found that almost half of all parents surveyed (48%) did not use childcare, while 20% used private childcare, 19% used government-subsidised private childcare and 13% used government-provided private childcare.