Free TAFE positive step towards addressing critical early childhood educator workforce
9 December 2021 – Thrive by Five has welcomed the Federal Labor Opposition’s announcement of free TAFE to help meet worker demand in early learning and childcare.
This commitment picks up on Thrive by Five’s Federal Budget ask this year for free or low-cost TAFE and VET courses in early childhood education and care.
Childcare centre director Cassandra Duff said the second year of the pandemic had intensified long-standing workforce shortages and inadequate pay and conditions in the sector.
“The early childhood education and care sector is at crisis point. I’m hearing from centre directors who have had to lower their classroom limits,” she said.
“At my centre, we’ve had to semi-permanently lower my Nursery 2 space from 16 children per day to 12 children due to the lack of available educators. While lowering numbers can help centres short term, it reduces the amount of available spots for families which results in many of them being turned away.
“Free TAFE would remove a critical barrier to people wanting to train in the early sector, including young people and women who have chosen to return to work after unpaid care responsibilities.
“We need greater workforce planning, targets and funding to fill the supply gap and help keep our centres open and sustainable.
“We also must respect our early educators with better pay and fairer conditions. This would help stabilise the sector, attract and retain the best educators available and have great benefits for young children.
“Children are missing out on early learning and parents are missing out on being able to work because of systemic early childhood workforce challenges,” Ms Duff said.