The growing workforce crisis in early childhood education and care must be a priority at the upcoming Jobs & Skills Summit in Canberra this week.
“A strong and resilient early childhood education and care system is the foundation of a strong and resilient economy,” The Parenthood Executive Director, and summit delegate, Georgie Dent, said. “In addition to being crucial to children’s education and development, parents being able to access quality affordable early learning and care is a key enabler of productivity. It can help ease workforce shortages and is central to achieving full employment and sustainable economic growth.”
“But the workforce crisis that is currently engulfing early childhood education and care poses a very real threat to the economic and educational benefits to children, parents, employers and the economy that can be realised from more affordable early learning and care,” Dent said.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority estimates that an extra 39,000 early educators are needed by 2023. Currently 11% of early learning services have requested waivers from staffing requirements because they cannot fill vacancies.
“Staff vacancies are at a record high. At the exact moment we need to be growing a strong pipeline of early educators and teachers, the workforce is contracting,” Dent said. “The Jobs Summit is an opportunity to address the key reasons that are causing educators to leave.”
“When skilled early educators can earn more per hour working at Bunnings or McDonalds it’s clear that pay is a serious issue. When an early childhood teacher can earn 30% more working in a Primary School as opposed to a preschool service, it’s clear pay is an issue.
“Educators deserve to be paid better but pay isn’t the only issue. We know too many educators and teachers don’t feel the critically important work they do is recognised, respected and valued.”
“Solving the workforce crisis in early childhood education is key to ensuring all children have access to the benefits of high quality early learning before they start school. But it’s also critical to unlock women’s overall workforce participation, addressing broader skills shortfalls in other industries and for the economy to grow,” Dent says.
“Just like we need to build roads to get to work, we need to build reliable and sustainable infrastructure that will enable children to thrive, parents to work and enable early educators to cover the cost of living.”
“The Jobs Summit is a crucial opportunity for leaders in government, business and beyond to commit to developing and implementing a robust early childhood education workforce strategy.”
“Such a plan would underpin the strength of Australia’s economic prosperity.”