Pandemic Workforce Crisis Requires TAFE Investment in Early Childhood Education to Boost Economy: Report

A new report has found pandemic workforce shortages should be tackled through investment in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) to boost employment, unlock productivity and support life-long development outcomes for children.

The research report launched today, ‘Educating for Care: Meeting Skills Shortages in an Expanding ECEC Industry’ has called for the sector to be treated as an ‘industry of national strategic importance’ with greater investment in TAFE to train staff.

Key Findings:

  • The number of job vacancies in Early Childhood Education and Care sector have doubled since the pandemic with providers reporting 6000 job vacancies per month
  • Australia is failing to train & retain its ECEC workforce, problem is set to worsen as 41,500 new graduates will be required per year by 2030
  • Beyond direct benefits, ECEC expansion boosts productivity across the economy by unlocking labour market participation of parents
  • Early childhood education enhances the long-term potential of Australia’s economy by providing children with education opportunities to expand lifetime learning, employment, & incomes
  • Among the 10 key recommendations,  is that ECEC should be viewed as an ‘industry of national strategic importance’, similar to the manufacturing industry

“Workforce shortages have been a problematic reality of the pandemic, both within the Early Childhood Education sector and across the broader economy,” said Dr. Mark Dean, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Carmichael Centre, and report author.

“The early childhood education and care workforce crisis is set to get worse. This represents a huge opportunity: greater investment in TAFE training and secure jobs can unlock economic growth and deliver better outcomes for our children and the Australian economy.

“It would be foolish to overlook the full and proper funding of Australia’s state- and territory-based TAFE systems in our post-pandemic economic reconstruction, rather than seeing it as an essential component.

“To tackle the problem, education and care for preschool-aged children should be provided by well-trained and experienced workers. Like any industry, attracting and retaining quality early childhood education staff will require quality, secure jobs.

“To meet the workforce needs of expanded ECEC coverage, ramping up high-quality vocational education for ECEC workers must be an immediate and highest-order priority.

“A vital prerequisite in this effort is establishing a stable, professional, well-supported ECEC workforce, by providing extensive education and training of ECEC workers, and their entry to secure, well-paid career pathways.”

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