Early learning workforce action must be at the top of the agenda for addressing Australia’s jobs and skills shortage
2 August 2022 – A broad coalition of unions, educator groups, experts, and advocates for children and parents have joined together to endorse the Thrive by Five Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Action Plan launched today in Canberra.
The Workforce Action Plan sets out the key priorities for addressing the workforce shortfall crisis in early learning and early childhood education and care reforms are on the agenda for the upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit.
The plan included calls on the Federal Government to:
- Fund an immediate pay rise for early childhood educators and teachers, comparable to the salary and conditions of school education sectors.
- Amend the Fair Work Act to allow for effective equal pay cases and sector level bargains to better reflect the professional value of the work performed by early childhood educators and teachers.
- Put the National Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Strategy on the Jobs Summit agenda.
- Establish a process for sector collaboration around longer-term early childhood education and care workforce reform to consider tertiary education of educators and teachers, developing mechanisms for better addressing First Nations and culturally diverse needs in the sector, more support for staff retention and attraction including in under-represented cohorts and prioritising early childhood education and care jobs in local skills and employment planning.
Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill said, “A key test of the government’s upcoming Jobs and Skills Summit will be delivering real solutions for the early childhood education and care workforce shortage.
“Educators are leaving because they can’t make ends meet on low wages, parents can’t get the support they need for going to work and children are missing out on vital education opportunities in the early years.
“Fixing the early education workforce crisis is critical for nation building plans and supporting more workforce participation from parents. It will increase employment in a female-dominated industry, help ease labour shortages and boost the economy.”
United Workers Union Executive Director Helen Gibbons said, “Every day passionate early childhood educators are forced out of a job they love because they can’t afford to stay in the sector and pay the bills. The Federal Government can’t deliver quality early education without educators.
“The workforce crisis in early education can only be solved by immediately addressing wages. It’s time to pay educators what they’re worth, and give them a reason to stay.”
Canberra-based early childhood education centre director, Cass Duff said, “The workforce shortage crisis has made it a really stressful time for those of use working in early childhood education and care. Existing staff shortages, combined with further absences due to covid or isolation has ramped up the pressure on remaining workers and pushed the system to the brink.
“We urgently need to retain our quality, highly-skilled workers and attract more people to work with us.
“Everyone working in early learning deserves respect and better pay for the essential service they provide children, families and our community. A wage rise now would help ease the workforce crisis and would be life changing for a lot of educators.”
Thrive by Five Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Action Plan available here: https://thrivebyfive.org.au/workforceplan/