Women wishing to return to the workforce share candidly on the challenges faced

By November 11, 2021Current, People
women returning

TL;DR – We look at the challenges women face when returning to the workplace and how they can break through glass ceilings, stereotypes, and do ANYTHING.

Recently, CNA ran a feature on the challenges faced by women who wish to return to the workforce after taking a career gap. This situation is not limited to those who are mothers, as some single women have also taken a career break to assume caregiving duties for ageing parents.

Common challenges faced by returning women

These women wishing to return to the workforce have shared candidly on the challenges that they face.

These include:

  • Anxiety, self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy after being away from the workforce
  • Employer bias
  • Being out of touch, having to learn and start from scratch
  • Having to take paycuts or even lowball offers

Addressing the elephant in the room

women returning

It’s not surprising that these women face some difficulties or bias when returning to the workplace. After all, the world that we live in today is getting increasingly technologically advanced. It also depends on how long the career gap has been. Some women who have been away for many years must confront the truth that they need some upskilling before employers may wish to hire them.

With SkillsFuture credits, it is easy to choose from many courses (including online ones). Depending on the course chosen, it could require no top up or out-of-pocket spending.

After attending some courses relevant to the job that they are intending to apply for, they would feel more confident during their job search.

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Seeking help from HR experts for job matching advice

women returning

Another common problem would be having an outdated CV and not understanding the current labour market. Hence, another important thing that could greatly help these women are career coaches who can render advice.

Apart from checking and ensuring that the CVs are up-to-date and competitive, these e2i career coaches also conduct mock interviews to brush up on the potential candidate’s interview skills and chances. They also give honest advice by pointing out potential skill gaps that the candidate may have. The candidate can then improve their employability by attending courses to gain the required skills.

In addition to that, they also provide job matching services. This helps make the job search process much less daunting and more focused for the candidate.

What HR experts advise

HR experts concede that there are some challenges that women face when returning to the workforce. However, these problems are not insurmountable.

They give the following advice:

  • Attend upskilling to stay up to date with current labour market needs. Highlight your willingness to learn and contribute to your team.
  • Have confidence! Tell employers honestly why you have taken a career gap.
  • Do not price yourself out of the market but negotiate offers that are below your expectations.

Redesigning the future of work for women

Female MP Yeo Wan Ling

Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling (right) attending a baking course with Chef Judy. (Because even MPs can pick up a new skill!)


In order to help women fulfill their aspirations at different stages of their lives, Singapore must redesign the future of work for women. This sentiment is echoed by Singapore’s only female labour MP, Ms Yeo Wan Ling. She shared that the NTUC Women and Family Unit and U SME plan to help SMEs redesign work for women.

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Ms Yeo noted that this included restructuring work hours so that women can manage other responsibilities. It could also be as simple as encouraging companies to have offices in the heartlands so that these women can be near their homes while working. Even though women may face different challenges, Ms Yeo believes that they “can break through glass ceilings and stereotypes…and do anything.”

We believe so too.

72% of women in Singapore took career breaks, yet 92% of employers have no policy to re-hire


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Catherine Mak

Author Catherine Mak

I love hawker food and coffee.

More posts by Catherine Mak

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