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MANPOWER, A GLOBAL leader in employment services, has released an insight paper highlighting the need for reforms in labour policies and practices throughout the world, particularly those involving female work participation. Titled “The Underworked Solution: Women and the Talent Crunch,” the Manpower study affirms that the rate of female participation in the labour force is significantly lower than that of men, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
It also identifies two key trends that require a shift in the regional and global employment paradigm: a shortage of working-age talent and the growing dominance of the services sector. “The Middle East region joins central and southeastern Europe, south Asia and North Africa as areas with the lowest rates of female participation in the workforce. Numerous positions remain unoccupied in service sectors such as IT, engineering and healthcare where women have the potential to excel, and yet a huge discrepancy still exists in terms of the number of women considered for and offered these posts,” said Patrick Luby, Managing Director, Manpower Middle East.
The workforce study reveals that global service sector jobs are expected to increase by at least 500 million between 2004 and 2015, the majority of which will be concentrated in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. It supports the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) assertion that maximized use of the female population has the potential to increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal well-being and promote sustainable development throughout the world. Although barriers to female employment are mostly cultural in nature, many of them can be addressed at the structural level. Manpower is thus encouraging governments and enterprises to discard inflexible work structures, especially the prevailing five-day, 40-hour work week and policies such as limited maternity leave and forced overtime which deter women from returning to work.
The employment services specialist is also advocating more equality in terms of pay and job advancement opportunities. The Manpower paper advises women to take the initiative themselves by joining education and training programmes that improve their employability and skill levels, by engaging the services of reputable employment service providers to enhance their chances of being recruited in the right field, or even by considering entrepreneurship as a way of harnessing their talents. Manpower Middle East leverages 14 years of experience in the region to provide tailored recruitment, employee assessment and training, outsourcing, and consulting services to its clients. The company is rapidly emerging as an employment services partner of choice for Arab businesses.