More jobs than people: 300% rise in ECEC job ads in regions
The Sector > Workforce > Other > More jobs than people: 300% rise in ECEC job ads in some parts of regional Australia

More jobs than people: 300% rise in ECEC job ads in some parts of regional Australia

by Freya Lucas

May 29, 2023
ECEC job ads are surging

Regional job ads are surging, new research from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has shown, with the number of early childhood education and care (ECEC) roles in the Riverina and Murray area increasing by 323 per cent in the timeframe covered by the report.


Commenting on the findings in an address to the National Press Club RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the report “shines a light on the unprecedented challenge playing out in regional Australia, as labour supply struggles to keep up with demand – despite population movement continuing.”


The Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge report shows that regional job advertisements across all sectors and industries grew three times faster than in metropolitan Australia at the end of 2022.


Demand for workers in regions hit record levels in 2022, with December recording a 10 per cent annual increase in the number of roles advertised, outpacing growth in capital cities of 3 per cent.


In October 2022, according to the Internet Vacancy Index (IVI), which is a monthly count of online jobs advertised by Jobs and Skills Australia, regional job vacancies grew to 94,100, which was more than double the pre-pandemic levels.


“Job vacancy growth year on year shows that the regions are falling further and further behind in trying to secure staff. Without intervention, the gap potentially will widen,” Ms Ritchie said.


Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge identifies the top four occupation groups recruiting through online advertising across regional Australia, with ‘carers and aides’ (the broader occupational group in which ECEC sits) listed in the top three. 


Other occupation groups include medical practitioners and nurses, general inquiry clerks, call centre workers and receptionists, and sales assistants. 


Ms Ritchie noted that while medical practitioners and nurses require a degree level qualification, the remaining three of the top four occupation groups only require a minimum of a Certificate III, prompting her to call for educational pathways in regions to be strengthened to meet the demand for workers. 


Preliminary economic modelling undertaken by the RAI indicates that filling these positions would have significant economic impact on both the regional and national economies, particularly in ECEC. 


Should the estimated 1,670 advertised ECEC roles in regional Australia be filled, she explained, it would potentially enable 11,690 parents/guardians to participate in the workforce.


While much of the national attention is focussed on ‘filling and skilling’ in metropolitan Australia, Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skill Challenge calls for a greater focus on regions.


Regional Australia, Ms Ritchie continued, remains constrained by the inability to fill roles with people from outside the area because of the dual challenges of Australia’s housing crisis, and the workforce shortages impacting ECEC. 


The RAI is calling for a National Population Plan to address these challenges through the exploration of  settlement patterns at a regionally disaggregated level and the enablers across the Framework to support the plan through its Regionalisation Ambition 2032.


Access the report here

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