Keep kids in school till 7pm so mums can go to work?

Keep kids in school till 7pm so mums can go to work?
Above photo is Ms Grace Fu, Cabinet Minister, at her Ministry of Foreign Affairs office.

SINGAPORE - To get more women into the workforce, keep children in school until 7pm.

And how about allowing companies that hire more women to employ more foreign workers?

These were among the radical suggestions thrown up yesterday by women MPs at a dialogue session with 80 employers.

With the current labour crunch, it is "perfect timing" for firms to think about how to get more women to enter the workforce, said Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Ms Fu, who heads a team that is working on a paper regarding this issue, said that the employment rate among women over 40 is lower in Singapore than in other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan.

Of the 691,000 women who are not working, 43 per cent said it was because of family responsibilities such as taking care of children.

Further, 18 per cent of the 62,500 women university graduates here are not economically active.

"There is a big pool of workers to tap," said MP for West Coast GRC Foo Mee Har, who yesterday presented various ideas on how to buck the trend.

One proposal involved setting up day-care facilities at schools that would enable children to stay until 7pm so working parents would not have to worry about who was looking after them.

They would be able to stay on at school and do homework or take part in extra-curricular activities.

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