ECEC sector responds to Government’s professional development commitment
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > ECEC sector responds to Government’s professional development commitment

ECEC sector responds to Government’s professional development commitment

by Freya Lucas

May 04, 2023

The early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector has labelled the Federal Government’s pledge to deliver over $70 million in funding to support the skills and training of staff in the sector a “powerful initiative” but said more support is needed to also improve sector wages. 


ECEC peak bodies and organisations including the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA), Goodstart Early Learning, Early Childhood Australia (ECA), Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA), and the United Workers Union (UWU) have responded to yesterday’s announcement that the upcoming Federal Budget will allocate $72.4 million of funding over five years for professional development to support skills and training in the sector. 

The investment supports professional development and complements the recent opening of applications for the Community Child Care Fund which aims to aid in the delivery of regional and remote services.


Specifically, the funding provides support to attract and retain early childhood educators to the ECEC workforce and uplift capacity and qualifications, including:


  • backfill support for up to 75,000 early childhood staff (educators, teachers and centre directors) while they upskill and undertake important professional development opportunities
  • support for ,6000 existing early childhood educators to complete teaching placements required by degree teacher education courses
  • support for up to 2,000 early childhood educators to undertake a practicum exchange at a different service, with a living allowance for students undertaking a practicum in a rural or remote location.


“ELACCA is very supportive of this suite of initiatives for our early learning and care workforce,” said ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death. 


“The package responds directly to our evidence about the key challenges that prevent early childhood educators from undertaking further professional development and will uplift and build capacity in the sector, at a time when it is most needed.” 


Investing in professional development is ‘a smart move’ 


Responding on behalf of Goodstart, CEO Dr Ros Baxter said research shows that high-quality professional development has a direct positive impact on child development outcomes, and that “investing in learning is a smart move by the Government”. 


ECA CEO Samantha Page agreed, saying that professional development plays a critical role in ensuring that educators have the skills they need individually, and as a team, to provide rich learning experiences, responsive to each individual child. 


“At a time when we have seen record staff turnover and the early childhood profession has been under extraordinary pressure on the front line of responding to the needs of children and families following the COVID-19 pandemic; investing in professional development and supporting student teachers to complete their qualifications has never been more important,” she added. 


ACA President Paul Mondo highlighted the provision to backfill positions for educators undertaking professional development, describing it as “a powerful initiative which we believe will lift one of the barriers to service providers being able to upskill their staff.”


Special support for early childhood teachers 


Mr Mondo also applauded the decision to allow educators wishing to become early childhood teachers (ECTs) to finish their courses whilst continuing to receive their anticipated salary, describing it as “a really positive outcome for educators”. 


“Before, our educators had to choose between studying to upskill or being paid,” he explained.


Dr Baxter was also pleased by this inclusion, stating it “remains a top priority for the sector as demand for ECTs has been outstripping supply for many years”.


A good beginning, but wages need to rise


While the announcement was well received by the Union, UWU Director Early Education Helen Gibbons said that while better access to training and development will improve centres’ ability to attract and retain educators, “it’s not enough alone”. 


To properly respond to the workforce crisis in early learning, she said, the Federal Government must follow through and play its role in improving wages.


“The only way to keep educators from leaving the sector at current crisis levels is by paying them a wage that respects their vital contribution to our society,” she continued.


This position was echoed by Dr Baxter who said “wages remain a major challenge and we look forward to further discussions about a commitment to fund fair wage rises for educators to solve the problem.


“With the new sector-wide bargaining process beginning next month, Goodstart looks forward to ongoing discussions with Commonwealth and State Governments on solutions to address the crisis in the early childhood workforce.”  

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