“Mad and crazy”: Goodstart Advocacy Manager comments on ECEC workforce crisis
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > “Mad and crazy”: Goodstart Advocacy Manager comments on ECEC workforce crisis

“Mad and crazy”: Goodstart Advocacy Manager comments on ECEC workforce crisis

by Freya Lucas

November 07, 2022

The recruitment challenges impacting the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector are well publicised, however until recently large-scale providers have managed to leverage their size to reduce the impact. 


Late last week, Goodstart Early Learning Advocacy Manager John Cherry spoke candidly with the ABC, summing up the current recruitment climate by sharing his thoughts from his address to the Senate committee, saying “It is mad and crazy for an organisation like ours, desperate to increase our occupancy, that we can’t increase our occupancy because we can’t find enough staff.”


Up to 100 centres in the Goodstart network have been enrolment capped in the past two years because the provider cannot find enough staff, something which Mr Cherry said impacts up to 15 families per missing staff member. 


Data from the National Skills Commission shows there were more than 7,000 vacancies across the sector in September, and many ECEC providers fear the situation will get worse next year when the government’s new childcare subsidies begin


While providers and peak bodies are supportive of the changes, they are forthcoming in saying that if job vacancies continue to grow at this rate, there will be over 10,000 vacancies by July 2023, something which is incompatible with the predicted rise in demand.


Also speaking with the ABC, Bermagui Preschool Director Narelle Myers said the sector has “dramatically changed” over the past few years.


While the preschool has previously enjoyed long-term staff in the past 20 years, the triple impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent housing crisis have led to the preschool having an unprecedented turnover of 36 staff in the past two years. 


At Goodstart, Mr Cherry said some services were turning families away because there simply aren’t enough staff to care for them, something which “has never happened before in Goodstart’s history,” he told a parliamentary inquiry last week.


Speaking with the ABC on behalf of the United Workers Union Executive Director of Early Education Helen Gibbons said the stories shared by Mr Cherry and Ms Myers were “all too familiar”. 


“We have a leaky bucket in early education. We are struggling to attract people to work in the sector, but we’re also having people leave daily.”


She implored the Government to address what many educators consider to be the biggest driver to leave the sector – wages. 


Ms Myers agreed, telling the ABC she has lost many staff to the primary school system, or to working for NDIS providers, where they can earn up to $60 an hour to care for a single client, something she says ECEC cannot compete with. 


To read the original coverage of this story, please see here

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