School holidays can leave working parents struggling to maintain work-life balance. That’s why one engineering company is taking steps to make this time a little easier.
Global infrastructure giant AECOM has taken steps to improve work-life balance for working parents juggling their engineering careers while caring for school-aged children.
The infrastructure company will partner with FlexCareers, an online employment resource that aims to connect skilled job-seekers with employers willing to offer flexible working conditions.
AECOM’s Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) HR Director Helen Fraser said she regularly speaks with women who express the challenges they face during school holidays.
“There is no doubt that many women stop working because it is just too hard to manage the 12 weeks of school holidays per year,” she said in a FlexCareers blog post announcing the initiative.
“This arrangement will take that worry away for people. Piloting the term-time contracts with up to 20 roles across Australia and New Zealand initially gives AECOM 12 months to test and refine it with our clients, our people and professional women who have not been actively looking for work in the infrastructure sector.
“We are confident that it will appeal to both men and women with caring responsibilities.”
According to Engineers Australia Board Member Trish White, who spoke at International Women’s Day events this past March, only 12 per cent of engineers working in Australia are women. In addition, just 51 per cent of qualified women engineers remain in the industry, compared to 64 per cent of their male counterparts.
“To perform at its best, the profession must draw on all Australians, but its gender profile is unbalanced,” she said.
AECOM ANZ Chief Executive Tom Battley said there is a significant pool of talent that has stepped away from the infrastructure industry because they were unable to nurture their families and their careers at the same time. He said he believed AECOM’s initiative was an industry first.
The company will start the initiative by externally advertising 15 roles that are active only during school terms. The roles span technical specialties including mechanical, electrical, civil, geotechnical and chemical engineering. AECOM will also offer current employees the opportunity to request their contract terms be changed as part of the year-long trial.
AECOM has a history of working towards improving gender balance within its ranks. Prior to this initiative, AECOM was awarded Engineers Australia’s Most Outstanding Company in Gender Diversity Award in 2016 for their commitment to addressing gender imbalance in the infrastructure sphere. The company is also working to have 20 per cent of their leadership positions filled by women by 2020.