Early childhood promoted as a career during National Skills Week
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > As National Skills Week commences, advocates look to boost ECEC numbers

As National Skills Week commences, advocates look to boost ECEC numbers

by Freya Lucas

August 22, 2023

National Skills Week (21-27 August) is an opportunity to raise the status of practical and vocational qualifications and training, and to encourage Australian workers to re-skill or upskill in all occupation groups. 


For the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, National Skills Week is an opportunity to attract workers into the field, and to encourage those already working in the sector to upskill. 


With over 1.3 million Australian children accessing approved early learning services, there is a very strong and ongoing need for skilled and qualified professionals in the sector, and with the number of providers continuing to grow annually, demand is expected to remain strong. 


Jobs and Skills Australia has noted that early childhood educators are in the top five list of most in demand occupations, with early childhood teachers also in the top 20. 


National Skills Week Chair Brian Wexham is calling for all Australians to use National Skills Week as an opportunity to reflect on the value of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in filling skills gaps which are occurring in many sectors and industries, including ECEC. 


“We need to debunk the perception that VET is a secondary option rather than first choice and is somehow less prestigious or valuable than a university qualification,” he said.


“The focus is on changing and challenging the perceptions of what is on offer in VET and on giving employers in a number of sectors and industries the chance to promote opportunities and diversity of careers and pathways.”


What are you looking for? 


The 2023 theme of National Skills Week is What are you looking for?, which is designed to focus on the idea of matching what people are looking for in a career and their life to skills training through Vocational Education. It is also about employers and industry showcasing what they are looking for in their team and the role that VET has in this space.


For ECEC, this is an invaluable opportunity to showcase the benefits of working in a sector which changes lives. For Jodi Schmidt, CEO of the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO), working in a sector which positions people at the centre is a must. 


“The ECEC sector has a profound impact on children’s development, learning, and future opportunities, so attracting and skilling the right workers is vital to meet the demand for a workforce to deliver the highest quality services to children and their families,” she said.


As well as making a difference, when job seekers are thinking about their next qualification steps, ECEC offers abundant opportunities. 


“Early Childhood education roles are in extremely high demand these days,” Ms Schmidt continued.  “There are currently more than 20,000 vacancies across the sector across the full range of roles.”


“These numbers will continue to grow  – the Health Care and Social Assistance sector is projected to maintain its position as one of the fastest-growing in Australia – 16 per cent by 2026, almost double the growth rate of the total Australian workforce growth, which is 9 per cent. The Child Care Centre Manager role, for example, is forecast to grow by 21.8 per cent in the same period.”


ECEC is incredibly welcoming of young career starters and people with diverse cultural backgrounds, she continued, noting that at least 30 per cent of ECEC graduates speak a language other than English, and the strong growth in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students completing early childhood education qualifications over the last five years.


Elizabeth Death, CEO of the Early Learning & Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) and HSSO Board Member, said that roles in the sector offer job satisfaction, flexibility and career progression.  


“The early learning sector offers job security in a rapidly growing profession and plays a big role in guiding little lives and shaping the next generation. With many different roles available, there are equally many opportunities to start work in the sector while you study towards a qualification – including starting your career while you’re still at school.”   


There are a range of options to get involved in National Skills week – from school events, training organisation activities and industry programs that highlight and promote skills and Vocational training pathways.


National Skills Week is supported by the Australian Government’s National Careers Institute.


For further information, visit nationalskillsweek.com.au   

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