Family obligations such as childcare or looking after relatives usually mean cutting back on working hours or even stopping work, thus allowing key skills to lie fallow. In the current social environment, it is women in particular who are affected by this under-use of potential resources.
Juggling family obligations and work plays a central role for highly or very highly qualified women, since their inability to secure a job is not due to any lack of qualifications. It is attributable more to unsuitable working conditions for continued employment, to a lack of childcare options outside the family, or to negative work incentives. The latter may, for example, be due to the high cost of external childcare or to bracket creep in income taxes: in terms of the family budget, it makes little sense for the second partner to increase their working week if the extra income generated is lower than the additional costs incurred for childcare and to cover higher taxes.
In order to help reconcile family obligations with vocational needs, government policy on skilled labour is therefore focussed largely on developing a range of high-quality childcare options outside the family, promoting family-friendly working conditions within companies, and eliminating negative financial incentives under the tax system.