This site uses cookies to provide you with a more responsive and personalised service. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies. Please read our cookie notice for more information on the cookies we use and how to delete or block them.

Print page

Increasing women’s participation in the workforce

Australia's hidden resource

Retaining women in the workforce could lessen the impact of Australia’s skills shortage.  While both sexes are equally represented in the workforce when careers start, women’s participation rate drops between the ages of 25 and 44, and never fully recovers. Yet Australian women are more highly qualified than men.

Goldman Sachs identified women as ‘Australia’s hidden resource’, and estimates that GDP could increase by 13% if male and female participation rates were equalised.

Closing the gender participation gap will require Government’s continued involvement. However, business can adopt flexible and supportive tactics to attract women re-entering work.

Section 6 of Where is your next worker? examines:

  • Let’s stop wasting women’s talents
  • Australia’s hidden resource
  • Policy opening the way
  • Reflecting on the business opportunities
  • Case study: A balanced workforce reduces wear and tear costs.
Recruiting Recruiting talent early to overcome the demographic gapGet full report

Reflections on the business opportunities

  • How are you rewarding your managers and leaders for attracting, developing and retaining female workers?
  • What is your strategy to attract women who may want to return to work but lack the connections or recent workplace history to do so?
  • How do you maintain contact with employees on maternity or parental leave?
  • What workforce flexibility and career options, such as childcare and flexible working hours, does your organisation offer a primary caregiver who is returning to work?
  • How are you helping your leaders to understand the potential traps of unconscious bias in recruiting and retaining workers who have family or carer commitments?

A balanced workforce reduces wear and tear costs

According to the ABS, in 2010 some 4,483 women were working in Australia’s mining industry as truck drivers.  Former teachers, nurses’ aides and public servants are the recruits of choice, aged from 21 to a 68-year-old great-grandmother earning a six-figure salary.

39 In certain mines, female “truckies” are highly soughtafter as drivers of large ore transportation trucks because they balance the group dynamics. As a result, some drivers are less likely to “show off” to their peers and more likely to drive with restraint. In this instance, a workforce that employs both sexes translates to less wear and tear on the costly tyres of 300-tonne ore transportation hulks.

Participation: Where is your next worker?


Retaining the ageing workforce for their expertise
Mature age workers are typically the most experienced and reliable employees and is a massive untapped source of productive capacity.  Retaining these wisdom workers will be increasingly important during the skills shortage.


Sourcing talent and skills through workforce diversity
Many overlooked potential workers - including people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians and immigrants with qualifications from unfamiliar institutions - could make a major contribution to solving the looming skills shortage


Moving workers interstate
Finding the right person for the job often depends as much on where they live as their abilities. With workforce mobility becoming increasingly critical, better use of technology can help employers take jobs to the workers.

Contact us

Where is your next worker?

Video [03:35]

Where is your next worker? addresses the positive actions business and government can take to maintain momentum in the face of a looming national skills shortage


Follow us


Talk to us