The unprecedented nationwide shut-down of early childhood education and care is proof the workforce is at breaking point, according to The Parenthood.
“The reasonable needs of early educators have been overlooked for too long,” Executive Director of The Parenthood, Georgie Dent, said. “The shut-down is a call for better pay, better conditions and more respect for the life-changing, nation-building work early childhood educators and teachers undertake.”
“Educators are absolutely exhausted. Staff vacancies are now double pre-pandemic levels with at least 6,600 vacancies last month alone and a third of early educators are planning to leave the sector in the next year,” Dent said. “The early education workforce kept Australia running during the pandemic, it’s predominantly female and is paid substantially less than male-dominated workforces that require a similar level of training and qualifications.”
It’s estimated that Australia needs an additional 39,000 early educators by 2023. To realise the full increased productivity benefits of the Labor government’s planned Cheaper Childcare package, we will need the equivalent of 9,650 full-time educators.
“But instead of growing this workforce is shrinking. This is a problem for every other employer or organisation in the country," Dent said. "If a parent can't access care, they can't access work."
“We need to act now to stem the loss of early educators and do everything we can to attract Australians back into this profession,” Dent said. “That’s why we’re supporting today’s shut-down and calls from early educators for better pay and conditions.”
“There is no doubt that children and parents not being able to access early learning and care will be disruptive. But if early educators don’t get the respect, support and decent pay they deserve, they’re going to continue to leave the profession and that will be far more disruptive than a day-long shut down.”
Fixing the workforce crisis in early learning will mean:
- more educators can be securely employed in the sector;
- more places available for children so that parents can choose to return to work and ease other workforce shortages in teaching, nursing, aged care and more;
- more learning opportunities for children in the first five years.