Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 - What did it mean for the ECEC sector?
The Sector > Policy > Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 – What did it mean for the ECEC sector?

Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 – What did it mean for the ECEC sector?

by Jason Roberts

September 05, 2022

The Federal Government wrapped up its first Jobs and Skills Summit on Friday 2 September after a broad coalition of representatives from over 140 unions, employers, peak bodies, civil society and government came together to discuss shared economic challenges and propose both immediate and long-term solutions. 


The early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector was represented by peak body Early Childhood Australia and featured consistently in multiple panel discussions over the course of the event. 


Prior to the event the importance of ECEC as an issue was repeatedly articulated by senior politicians at both the Federal and State level with the Prime Minister describing it as a “very positive issue,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as “never being more important”  and Minister for Finance and Women Katy Gallagher saying there was a “big opportunity” to get ECEC policy right. 


Unfortunately however, despite the positive preliminary commentary, there were no new immediate actions released in relation to the ECEC sector even though broad consensus was reached on its economic, financial, educational and social value to society and the challenges with regards workforce and recognition that the sector currently faces.


So what were the outcomes for ECEC from the Jobs and Skills Summit?


The Jobs and Skills Summit 2022 – Outcomes Paper is the main post Summitt document that details immediate actions that have been agreed to be taken, areas highlighted for further work and existing commitments already in place from Government across five target domains. 


The ECEC sector was the direct recipient of two new areas identified for further work but received no immediate actions. The absence of immediate actions will be of concern to all stakeholders across the sector at this time. 


The details contained in the outcomes paper that pertain to ECEC are included below for each domain :


#1 Promoting Equal Opportunities and Reducing Barriers to Employment


Although no immediate actions regarding ECEC were forthcoming in this domain the sector was a focus and called out specifically with two additional areas of work highlighted and a range of pre-election commitments reiterated. 


Areas for future work identified: 


The Government and states and territories will:


  • Identify priority areas where government can collaborate to support better outcomes across the ECEC system, with a particular focus on workforce shortages


  • Develop through National Cabinet, a long-term vision for early childhood education and care reform to better support parents’ workforce participation as a national priority


Existing commitments reiterated:


These include pre election pledges such as the increase in Child Care Subsidy rates from July 2023 and raising the maximum family income threshold, the Productivity Commission review of the sector and an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into childcare prices and a commitment to develop a whole-of-government Early Years Strategy.


#2 Boosting Job Security and Wages, and Creating Safe, Fair and Productive Workplaces


The ECEC sector featured indirectly in this domain as part of broader immediate commitments to update the Fair Work Act to ensure that, amongst other objectives, all workers and businesses can negotiate in good faith for agreements that benefit them, including small businesses, women, care and community services sectors, and First Nations people.


Areas for future work to be completed in consultation with unions and business include initiating a detailed consultation and research process considering the impact of workplace relations settings (such as rostering arrangements) on work and care, including childcare


Establishing two new expert panels in the Fair Work Commission for pay equity and the care and community sector, both prior commitments, were reiterated. 


#3 A better skilled, better trained workforce


The ECEC sector was not mentioned in this domain but an immediate commitment made by the Federal Government and States and Territories was to establish a $1 billion one-year National Skills Agreement that will provide additional funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023, while a longer term agreement that drives sector reform and supports women’s workforce participation is negotiated. 


Although numerous incentives already exist for free TAFE in the ECEC sector, additional commitments for vocational funding will be supportive. 


#4 Addressing Skills Shortages and Strengthening the Migration System


The ECEC sector was also not mentioned in this domain but a number of immediate and future initiatives will likely be of interest to the sector, particularly when it comes to Early Childhood Teachers. 


The government has committed to other initiatives immediately including: 


  • Increase the permanent Migration Program planning level to 195,000 in 2022-23 to help ease widespread, critical skills shortages


  • Increase the duration of post study work rights by allowing two additional years of stay for recent graduates with select degrees in areas of verified skills shortages to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour in Australia, informed by advice from a working Group


  • Extend the relaxation of work restrictions for student and training visa holders until 30 June 2023 to help ease skills and labour shortages


Looking ahead, the Government will also progress work to assess the effectiveness of the skilled migration occupation lists and expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary skilled sponsored workers.


ECEC was not referenced in the fifth domain Maximising jobs and opportunities in our industries and communities.


The Outcomes Paper is an excellent resource to review key findings from the Jobs and Skills Summit.

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