Queensland on The Frontline of Early Learning Workforce Crisis: New Data
06 March 2023 – Latest data from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has revealed that nearly one quarter (23.3 per cent) of all long day care services in Queensland have had to apply for staffing exemption waivers , indicating that they cannot find enough qualified staff to fulfill their staffing requirements.
Queensland is second only to West Australia for the highest percentage of long day care services seeking a staffing exemption waiver .
The recent Internet Vacancy Index from Jobs and Skills Australia shows there are 1,558 early education job vacancies in Queensland, with national vacancies at 6,770 .
Minderoo Foundation Thrive by Five’s Director, Jay Weatherill said, “The early learning workforce shortage is biting deep in Queensland, and undermines the ability of educators and parents to provide children with the best start in life.
“Anecdotally, early learning providers in regional areas are facing some of the most acute challenges in finding qualified and experienced staff.
“Early childhood educators and early learning staff are the cornerstone of our system and play a vital role in the brain and social development of our young children.
“The early childhood education and care sector has long faced workforce shortage issues, and these latest figures show the Queensland sector is at crisis point.
“There are currently thousands of job vacancies in early childhood education, increasing pressure on existing staff, leading to spot closures of rooms and limiting access to early learning for children.
“When service providers cannot find enough qualified staff, they often have to operate their centres at a drastically reduced staffing capacity, which can have a direct impact on the quality of care.
“Early learning educators are leaving the sector 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 learning and development opportunities in the early years.
“We’re also hearing there is a lack of affordable housing in several areas of Queensland, such the Sunshine Coast, which leaves essential workers struggling including early educators.
“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.
“There must be a concerted effort on the behalf of all Governments to fund an immediate pay rise for early childhood educators and take bold steps to improve working conditions within the sector.
“Australia also needs more effective workplace planning, especially for the medium and long term.
“To truly ensure Australian children get the best possible start in life, we must address the growing crises facing the early childhood education and care sector, and it starts with building a strong and resilient workforce,” Mr. Weatherill said.