WA’s National party pledges to bring more ECEC educators to regional areas
The West Australian Nationals have promised to deliver more qualified early childhood education and care (ECEC) workers in regional areas to address the skills shortage and support high quality education.
Nationals leader Mia Davies said the party “will immediately lift” an exemption which prevents childcare workers in regional areas from accessing discounted course fees through the State Government’s Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative.
Service providers in regional WA face unique challenges when it comes to having access to qualified employees, Ms Davies said, outlining that while the National Quality Framework requires at least 50 per cent of ECEC centre staff to hold diploma-level qualifications, many centres in regional WA seek exemptions to continue operating as they have challenges in attracting qualified employees.
“This means regional families aren’t getting access to qualified educators in the same way they would if they lived in Perth,” Ms Davies said.
While one solution to address the lack of diploma-level childcare educators is to upskill existing staff, high course fees “present a significant barrier for staff and childcare centres,” Ms Davies said.
Those workers who are new to the ECEC sector are advantaged when it comes to training costs, she continued, being able to access courses for $1,200, while the course cost for existing staff is much higher.
“This has had the undesirable effect of staff shifting to other centres to be classified as a new worker, or centres choosing not to upskill staff because they can’t afford it.”
Ms Davies said The Nationals’ policy represented a savings of around $6,600 per educator and would support up to 250 educators each year to gain diploma-level qualifications.
“Having access to affordable, quality child care helps parents return to the workforce, supports regional economies, and provides social benefits for parents and children.”
Ms Davies made the commitment, worth up to $1.65 million per year, in Geraldton late last week alongside local MP Ian Blayney and workers from the ECEC sector.
To read more about the proposal, see here.