UNE academic Dr Marg Rogers calls for Jobs and Skills Summit to focus on ECEC
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > UNE academic Dr Marg Rogers calls for Jobs and Skills Summit to focus on ECEC

UNE academic Dr Marg Rogers calls for Jobs and Skills Summit to focus on ECEC

by Freya Lucas

August 26, 2022

The upcoming National Jobs and Skills Summit, to be held 1 and 2 September, needs to focus on fixing the crisis in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, prominent University of New England (UNE) academic Dr Marg Rogers has said.


Although many families have welcomed the prospect of cheaper ECEC come mid next year, Dr Rogers believes that starting the reforms earlier will have positive ramifications for the employment landscape, allowing more women to return to the workforce or to increase their hours at a time when many organisations and businesses are struggling to find workers.


In order to facilitate this, however, early childhood educators urgently need better pay and recognition. 


“In a time of record low unemployment, political talk is cheap, and many educators have given up waiting and left the profession,” Dr Rogers said. 


“This has left the sector scrambling to find casual workers, and in some instances, any workers. Some services have been forced to close, adding to our childcare deserts.”


In order to attract and retain ECEC professionals, policy makers need to think about the welfare of educators, she continued. 


“If educators are well, happy and supported, they are much more likely to provide quality education and care for Australia’s children.”


Dr Rogers’ previous work has demonstrated the immense pressure the ECEC workforce is under, with turnover rates of at least 30 per cent, and with one recent study showing that 73 per cent of educators surveyed planned to exit the sector in the next three years. 


Educator welfare for those who choose to stay is vital, she continued, because it affects the quality of their interactions with young children. The quality of interactions is key to the quality of education and care the children receive in these crucial years. 


Despite the negative findings, educators have been able to identify many ways for government agencies to improve the system including:
  • Providing a local contact who knows the service and provides advice. 
  • Allowing for flexibility in delivery. 
  • Increasing (educator to child) ratios, decreasing required documentation“.


While educators’ work has been made much harder by the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Rogers said, the flaws in the system were already there. The pandemic has increased the pressure, with many services struggling to find enough staff


“It’s time for radical change in the sector, including funding and usability,” Dr Rogers continued.


“Unless we have real reform, our children’s critical early childhood education and care is at risk. Let’s hope the Jobs and Skills Summit focuses on this vital sector.” 

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