The Parenthood: Jobs and skills summit must address workforce crisis in early childhood education and care
27 July 2022 – New data from the national early childhood education regulator highlights the growing crisis in the early childhood education and care workforce.
In the first quarter of 2022, data from theAustralian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority shows 8.1 per cent of childcare providers operated with a staffing waiver because they could not meet the legal requirement for suitably qualified early childhood teachers on staff. Four years ago, the figure was 3.9 per cent.
National Skills Commission data shows that vacancies in early childhood education and care hit a record 6648 positions in May. This has doubled in the past three years.
It comes a week after early educators voted to take strike action on 7 September – Early Childhood Educators Day – to highlight the issues and stress that workers within the sector have been experiencing.
The Parenthood is calling on the Federal government to prioritise urgent action and to ensure this crisis is addressed at the Jobs and Skills Summit on 1-2 September in Canberra.
The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said, “Addressing the issues impacting the early education workforce as a matter of priority is critical to the government being able to boost employment, ease labour shortages, deliver its package for cheaper childcare and realise the benefits of boosting workforce participation among parents.
“Inaccessible and unaffordable childcare is a key structural barrier to full employment in Australia. Addressing this issue would free up a latent supply of labour, in the form of educated and skilled parents, currently locked out of work by the prohibitive cost of care.
“But tapping into this potential increased labour supply is dependent upon a growing workforce. Parents being able to work additional days is dependent upon early learning services having the capacity to increase enrolments.
“At least 40,000 additional early educators will be required by 2023 to meet growing demand for early learning services but right now the workforce is contracting not expanding.
“Stemming this loss and growing capacity in the sector is fundamental to being able to deliver on the promised reform to make early childhood education and care more affordable and accessible.”
“The early education workforce is predominantly female and one of the lowest paid cohorts of workers in Australia despite undertaking critically important and valuable work.
“Compared to male-dominated workforces that require a similar level of training, like concreting, the pay gap is substantial. The status quo is unaffordable and unsustainable for early educators.
“Creating well paid and secure jobs in the education sector is part of building a strong and resilient economy.
“It is time for urgent government action to ensure early educators are appropriately valued, supported and paid,” Dent said.