ECEC workforce needs strong investment to overcome shortages new report finds

ECEC workforce needs strong investment to overcome shortages new report finds

by Freya Lucas

May 06, 2022

Shortages in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce should be tackled through investment which would in turn boost employment, unlock productivity and support life-long development outcomes for children, a new report from the Carmichael Centre has found. 

 

Educating for Care: Meeting Skills Shortages in an Expanding ECEC Industry’ has called for the ECEC sector to be treated as an ‘industry of national strategic importance’, akin to the manufacturing, minerals, or technology sectors, with greater investment in TAFE to train staff lying at the heart of proposed changes. 

 

“Provision of ECEC services should be treated as a strategic industry of national importance – not just a ‘market’, and not just a ‘cost’ item on government budgets,” the report summary notes. 

 

“The ECEC sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. It directly creates billions of dollars of value-added in the Australian economy. It generates further demand for other sectors – both upstream, in its own supply chain, and downstream in consumer goods and services industries that depend on the buying power of ECEC workers.”

 

The findings come at a critical juncture in the sector, with the number of job vacancies in ECEC having doubled since the pandemic, with providers reporting 6,000 vacancies per month nationally. 

 

It is anticipated that 41,500 new graduates will be required per year by 2030 to service the sector, and report authors have urged decision makers to recognise the importance of the sector in terms of boosting productivity across the economy by unlocking labour markets, facilitating the workforce participation of parents, and contributing to the long term potential of the nation’s economy by providing children with education opportunities to expand lifetime learning, employment, & incomes. 

 

“Workforce shortages have been a problematic reality of the pandemic, both within the ECEC sector and across the broader economy,” report author Dr. Mark Dean shared.

 

“The ECEC workforce crisis is set to get worse. This represents a huge opportunity: greater investment in TAFE training and secure jobs can unlock economic growth and deliver better outcomes for our children and the Australian economy,” he said. 

 

“It would be foolish to overlook the full and proper funding of Australia’s state- and territory-based TAFE systems in our post-pandemic economic reconstruction, rather than seeing it as an essential component.”

 

Dr Dean said that education and care for young children “should be provided by well-trained and experienced workers.” 

 

“Like any industry, attracting and retaining quality early childhood education staff will require quality, secure jobs. To meet the workforce needs of expanded ECEC coverage, ramping up high-quality vocational education for ECEC workers must be an immediate and highest-order priority.”

 

To access the report please see here

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