United Workers Union says Jobs Summit must deliver real reform for early learning
The Sector > Workforce > United Workers Union says Jobs Summit must deliver real reform for early learning

United Workers Union says Jobs Summit must deliver real reform for early learning

by Freya Lucas

August 31, 2022

The United Workers Union (UWU) has said that this week’s Jobs and Skills Summit must deliver real change for “undervalued educators, now, because there is no early education without us”.


Union members, UWU Director of Early Education Helen Gibbons said, have voiced concerns that the Summit may not commit to the full extent of reform required to fix the issues plaguing the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce. 


A recent survey of educators has shown that the crisis is urgent and growing, with 88 per cent of respondents saying that if nothing changes, they do not see themselves remaining in the sector for the long term. 


Nearly all of those who responded (98.5 per cent) said that the staffing shortages are impacting the quality of care and education that children are receiving, while over 99 per cent said workload and staffing issues in the sector have left them feeling “burnt out and undervalued”.


“The results are in – educators cannot afford to stay in the sector, and the sector cannot deliver quality early learning without educators. We need real reform now,” Ms Gibbons said. 


“Early education is still facing an ever-worsening staffing crisis due to unmanageable workloads, stress and low wages. 81 per cent of centre directors say they have had difficulties in attracting and recruiting staff,” she added. 


“We know that all around the country, services are being forced to cap enrolments or close rooms because they simply cannot stem the tide of fed-up educators leaving the sector every day.”


Educators who responded to the survey wanted to share the following insights:

  • The lack of staffing means I end up doing unpaid work at home to try to keep up when my planning time is always being taken off me, this is unfair to myself and the children I plan for.

  • I’ve been an early childhood educator for over 25 years and I’m now looking for another job not in childcare as I’m so burnt out and over everything else I don’t feel the quality of care is there anymore as I have so much paperwork we are just getting through the day.

  • We have always been taken for granted, and after all that we went through during COVID-19 and all its implications where we were essential, we still are not recognised for what we did. We’re so tired of being undervalued, underpaid, and overworked, we are over our profession.

  • We are professionals working ridiculously long hours for little pay. We steal things from home for our under-resourced centres and we are exhausted.

  • Government needs to stand and stop providers profiting from Australian children and early educators or we will have no strong economy in the future.

  • With the cost of living rising, educators are leaving every day , as it is near impossible to survive on the wages we receive. After over 20 years in the industry, I’ve lost my mojo , mostly to the pay but also educators well-being.


For more information about the Jobs and Skills Summit, please see here

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