Affinity develops talent in house as workforce challenges continue
The Sector > Provider > General News > As the ECEC workforce crisis continues, Affinity is developing a talent pipeline in house

As the ECEC workforce crisis continues, Affinity is developing a talent pipeline in house

by Freya Lucas

November 14, 2023

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Affinity Education Group (AEG) is one of a number of organisations who is in the running for the Australian HR Institute’s 2023 Best Learning & Development Strategy Award, with the Group being nominated for its exceptional initiatives in combating workforce shortage challenges. 


When faced with a severe shortage of available educators and leaders AEG augmented its learning and development program to “build a pipeline of capable, driven and purposeful talent”.


“We’re lucky in this sector that a lot of people are in it for the right reasons,” Linda Carroll, Affinity Education Group’s Chief People Officer shared with HR Magazine.


AEG employs more than 5,000 early childhood educators and teachers nationwide, and has long been a champion of accessible professional development for educators. 


When shortages began to impact the ECEC sector, AEG expanded its offering in the professional development space to enhance its employee value proposition, with a view to also creating “a smooth and sustainable” internal pipeline of talent. 


“Particularly post-COVID, where you’ve got other industries and sectors that have been able to offer hybrid working arrangements, it’s difficult for us to compete because we have ratios to meet and children in our care. So for us, it’s about finding different ways to attract and retain our workforce,” Ms Carroll said. 


The process of creating a funnel of talent isn’t a simple one, and Ms Carroll said a lot of time, effort and concentration is spent on developing AEG’s people. 


The Affinity Learning Academy has been operating since 2017, where employees are offered fully-paid and supported accredited training and are assisted in enrolling in traineeships, Certificate III and Diploma qualifications.


Last year, the organisation’s leaders decided to harness the success of the program to enhance its internal leadership talent pipeline, extending the professional development options to include leadership and management qualifications for centre leaders.


Moving from being an educator or a room leader to being an assistant manager, or running a service, requires leaders to take on what is essentially a small business, often without any business or leadership experience or training. 


“Often the traits that make someone successful in working with children are different to the ones you need as a leader or as a business manager of a centre,” Ms Carroll shared


The leadership training sessions include the support of a development coach who visits services for on-the-job training and coaching to help them meet their professional goals, and is offered in such a way that those working in regional areas are given the same amount of face time with the trainers.


Ms Carroll was keen to emphasise that the program is more than a temporary measure to plug skills gaps, and that AEG is dedicated to sustaining and expanding the program to safeguard its talent pipeline for the long haul.


“[Our measures of success] are around how many of our management positions we’re filling via internal candidates and promotions, and where we’re sitting is around 70 per cent,” she said. “That’s the most important metric for us, particularly in a growing business.”


AEG is growing, with more than 1,500 new employees and 70 individual centres added to the portfolio in the past two years. 


“It’s been very important for us to empower the staff in our services, because we can’t just keep adding hundreds of people to a head office and sending them out to do the work in the centres,” Ms Carroll said. 


Learn more about the AHRI Awards here. Read the original coverage of this story here.

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