CHILDCARE costs should be subsidised to help unemployed parents return to work, according to a new international study.
With childcare costs for a family with two children put at 40pc of an average wage, Ireland is the most expensive country in the world for childcare, revealed the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report.
In contrast the average childcare spend for parents in the 34 OECD countries is a more affordable 12pc.
The influential agency has now suggested that part of the cost of childminding could be covered for an initial period of time when unemployed people take up a new job to ensure that they can get "a foothold in the labour market again".
The global OECD study, which assesses the social impact of the financial crisis, also said there was little to be gained for a jobless couple here if one got a job. This was unlike the experience in other OECD countries.
Herwig Immervoll, an economist at the think-tank and study author, said costs are "a barrier to women in labour market participation across OECD countries". "But because of the high costs and often the limited availability in Ireland there is particularly a strong barrier there," he said.
Less than a third of children under the age of three are enrolled in childcare facilities in Ireland, compared with 40pc in the UK and 50pc in France.
A government-backed report last year revealed that a quarter of parents are prevented from returning to work because of soaring child care costs.