Sector peak bodies welcome ECEC Budget pledges but concerns on workforce shortages linger
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector peak bodies have welcomed the Federal Government’s 2021/22 Budget proposals to support the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, but concerns about the absence of any targeted measures to address ongoing workforce shortages remained.
Elizabeth Death, CEO of the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA), applauded the Government’s commitment to ensuring every Australian child will gain ongoing access to an affordable preschool program, regardless of the delivery setting.
“We also welcome the Government’s financial support to remove some of the major disincentives for low- and middle-income families to increase the second income earner’s participation in the workforce,” Ms Death added.
“We now need to turn our attention to the development of a robust, highly qualified early childhood workforce” an area that ELACCA has been focused on since the launch of its Big Roles in Little Lives campaign in early 2021.
CEO of Early Childhood Australia, Samantha Page, welcomed the commitment to ongoing funding for preschool but was less positive when commenting on the financial support measures offered in the CCS adjustments saying the changes “will benefit less than a quarter of the approximately one million Australian families using early childhood education, and doesn’t start until July 2022.”
Ms Page also went on to note that additional investment in ECEC is still needed with access, affordability and “sufficient numbers of qualified educators and teachers” essential to its long term success.
“If the government truly believes that early education ‘is a vital time in a child’s development and prepares them for the educational journey ahead’ we are going to need to see more substantial investment in early education and care.” she concluded.
Paul Mondo, President of the Australian Childcare Alliance commended the Federal Government’s commitment to support Australian families and children with measures recently announced in the Federal Budget and specifically called out the expansion of the JobTrainer program as a net positive but highlighted more needs to be done.
“With the critical workforce shortage in the early learning sector, it is vitally important that measures are put in place to build on the existing supply of qualified educators. We believe the commitment to increasing available training places is a powerful start to addressing the problem.”
For an overview of the Budget announcement as it relates to ECEC, please see here.