Thrive by Five Welcomes Strong Enrolment Numbers for Early Childhood Education Courses Across West Australian TAFE Colleges
22 February, 2023 – Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed data from the Western Australian Government indicating strong enrolment numbers for early childhood education courses across the state, as a part of the Fee-Free TAFE program formalised between the Australian and WA Governments.
The Skills Share Agreement formalised between the two governments will see more than 18,000 Fee-Free TAFE places offered, with 13,000 enrolments so far. Early childhood education and care enrolments are among the strongest so far, according to a joint media statement.
Thrive by Five’s Director, Jay Weatherill said fee-free tertiary training was a positive step forward for addressing and stabilising the early learning workforce crisis in Western Australia.
“It is positive news that the bulk of the enrolments under Western Australia’s Fee-Free TAFE program have been for early childhood education and care training.
“We’ve known for a while now that removing barriers to entry, such as high fees and other administrative costs can help encourage students who otherwise might be hesitant, to take up training in critical industries such as early childhood education, and this data proves just that.
“Allowing aspiring educators to gain formal training without the burden of costs, allows dedicated, passionate, and talented people to enter the profession.
“High enrolment numbers and a large student population today, has the potential to boost the state’s ECEC workforce in the future.”
However, the Thrive by Five campaign warns more must be done to address the early childhood education workforce crisis in the state and across the country.
Recent data from the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority shows nearly one in five long day care centres in WA (24.1 per cent) are operating with a staff waiver, The national total is at 16.4 per cent.
“A strong and stable early learning workforce is critical for children to get the best start in life and for parents to have better choices about workforce participation. It’s one of the cornerstones of a sustainable early learning system,
“ We need accurate targets, strategies and funding to fill in the supply gap and make a difference now before it’s too late,
“Along with making pathways to entry easier for new educators, Governments at all levels must also focus on improving wage and working conditions for the existing workforce, to truly ensure that the crises facing the sector are addressed,” he said.