Future Tracks releases new study examining barriers to upskilling in ECEC workforce
Future Tracks, a social enterprise committed to attracting and supporting the next generation of teachers and leaders in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, has released a new study that examines in detail a potential strategy, namely upskilling the existing educator workforce, as a way to increase the number of early childhood teachers (ECTs) available to work in the sector and address a significant resourcing challenge faced by a sector with too few ECT’s.
The new report, Upskilling in early childhood education, was recently launched in Melbourne and saw 40 representatives from across the sector including Government, Unions, Universities and the ECEC sector attend the event hosted by Future Tracks and presented by Chief Executive Officer Lucy Davidson.
As well as talking through the motivations for commissioning the report, Ms Davidson explored some of the current challenges faced by the sector with a panel of guest experts that included Julie Madgwick, Head of Early Learning and Education at G8 Education; Simon Kent, Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne; and Paul Mondo, President of the Australian Childcare Alliance.
Barriers, both perceived and otherwise, that prevent the upskilling decision
A key focus of the report, commissioned by Future Tracks and conducted by public policy consulting firm dandolopartners, was to understand in detail the barriers, both perceived and otherwise, that were preventing the substantial pool of skilled, experienced and committed educators that deliver quality programs daily at their centres from upskilling to an ECT role.
The research identified five major barriers:
- There were mixed perceptions and low awareness about the value and opportunities of an ECT role and qualification
- The challenge of managing workload and family commitments with study
- Concerns about the value of university courses, academic supports and application processes
- There may be limited support and challenging conditions within the workplace to support upskilling
- The financial burden and risk of upskilling is too high
The combination of these factors were found to be the key reasons why educators were not electing to upskill.
In addition to these five barriers, there was the additional complication created by the relative differences in status, pay and conditions and career progression opportunities between ECTs and primary school teachers which may lead potential ECT candidates to elect for primary settings.
Motivations, reasons to upskill, were also explored in the study
In addition to barriers, the research also explored the key factors that do motivate educators to upskill to ect roles namely:
- Easily accessible information and courses and career opportunities
- Financial supports and incentives, for example paud study leave
- Guaranteed job as ECTs at the conclusion of study
The report highlighted that financial relief was a significant motivator for educators, with 43 per cent saying paid study leave was key and 41 per cent saying the higher pay as an ECT was significant.
By identifying both the barriers and motivations to educator upskilling, the report provides a roadmap for key stakeholders, such as ECEC providers, Universities and Governments to create the necessary conditions, through action and policy, to encourage more educators to elect to upskill to ECT’s.
* Future Tracks is a new social enterprise under the umbrella of The Front Project.