Staff waivers hit another record high – workforce shortages still a problem for ECEC
More than seventeen per cent of all long day care services (LDCs) have at least one staff waiver, another new record level, according to the latest Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) NQF Snapshot.
The data, gathered as at 1 October 2023, shows that 17.4 per cent of all LDCs in Australia have at least one staffing waiver in place, 0.4 per cent higher than the previous high recorded as at 1 July 2023.
The increase comes at a time when demand for early learning services tends to be rising as the end of the educational year approaches and also reflects challenges reported by a number of providers, including most recently Embark Education, that highlighted staff shortages constraining their ability to take on enrolments.
The situation in preschool, outside school hours care (OSHC) and family day care (FDC) settings was far less extreme with just 3.30 per cent of preschools, 2.20 per cent of OSHC services and 0.20 per cent of FDC services currently holding waivers.
WA leads waiver counts, closely followed by QLD and SA
Workforce challenges in Western Australia are becoming increasingly extreme with the state recording that more than one in four LDC services, 26.3 per cent, now have one or more waivers in place, a new record high, highlighting demand for educators in this region is now extremely strong.
Notably, the ongoing difficulties are being felt across the board, with all states and territories, with the exception of the ACT, reporting a higher percentage of services with waivers in place as at 1 October 2023, than three months earlier.
The waivers in Queensland are relatively high but appear to be stabilising although South Australia’s nearly 5 per cent jump to 23.30 per cent suggests the opposite as a record proportion of services now have waivers in place.
Excepting the seasonal dynamics that will be contributing to the high numbers of waivers outstanding it is clear that current initiatives, at all levels of Government and approved providers, are still not sufficient to drive workers into the sector making the now commenced wage negotiations between ECEC employer and employee representatives all the more important.
To read more about the prospects for an increase in educator wages please click here.
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