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Early Childhood Development Workforce

Research report

The second phase of the Education and Training Workforce study is examining the workforce of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector. This research report was released on 1 December 2011.

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  • Key points
  • Media release
  • Contents
  • The early childhood development sector contributes to the positive early life outcomes experienced by the majority of young children in Australia. The sector provides early childhood education and care, child health and family support services to over 1.5 million children.
  • Governments are implementing a range of substantial reforms to early childhood education and care. These reforms have substantial implications for the 140 000 strong early childhood education and care workforce.
  • The VET workforce comprises about 73 000 TAFE employees and an estimated 150 000 who work for other VET providers. It includes trainers and assessors, other professionals and general staff. It has a greater proportion of part-time, casual and older workers, compared with the general labour force.
  • The supply of suitably qualified workers is likely to take some time to respond, and temporary exemptions from the new standards (waivers) will be required. Government timelines for reform appear optimistic.
  • Increased demand for qualifications will increase demand for vocational education and training. Unless existing concerns surrounding poor quality training are addressed, much of any increased investment in vocational education and training could be wasted. As a priority, a review of the relevant training package and sufficient funding so that the new national regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, can effectively monitor the delivery of the package is required.
  • Appropriate and accessible professional development and support for staff is needed so that the benefits of additional training are enduring, and to disseminate information on the extensive pedagogical and regulatory sectoral reforms.
  • The increase in early childhood education and care service costs due to labour cost increases will mainly be shared by governments and parents, rather than by workers or providers. Under existing subsidy arrangements, access to long day care services is expected to be lower than without the reforms, as a result of higher costs faced by parents.
  • Alternative child care subsidy structures, emphasising targeting to the most disadvantaged children and families, could deliver cost savings to the Australian Government while helping to ensure access to services for those who would benefit most.
  • Child and family health nurses are generally in good supply. Research is required to determine the optimal mix of skills and qualifications in the child health workforce.
  • Early childhood development services are not currently providing the same start in life to children with additional needs, and many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, that is commonly available to other children. The workforce requirements to provide appropriate services for these children must be prioritised so that the gap in outcomes between them and other children is minimised, not exacerbated.
  • The development of integrated early childhood development centres provides new opportunities for improved service delivery, but may require additional leadership and cross-disciplinary professional development for staff for them to be effective.

Challenges Facing the Early Childhood Development Workforce

Agreed government reforms will require early childhood education and care providers to employ a substantially larger and more highly qualified workforce, according to a report released by the Productivity Commission today.

The report - Early Childhood Development Workforce - finds that many more workers will be required in preschool and long day care. Full implementation of the reforms will require an estimated 15,000 more workers than would otherwise have been the case. On average, the level of workers' qualifications will also need to increase. The wages of workers in those early childhood education and care roles that require relatively high level vocational education and training or university qualifications would be expected to rise as a result.

The Commission considered that Government timelines for reform appear optimistic, with implementation due to start in January 2012. The supply of the most highly qualified workers, particularly teachers, is likely to take some time to respond.

The report notes that to sustain the benefits of higher levels of qualification, access to ongoing professional development and support for staff will be very important - including in relation to training in the expanding integrated early childhood development centres.

The report indicates that early childhood development services for children with additional needs, and for Indigenous children, are not meeting the standards commonly available to other children. It is essential that early childhood development workforce requirements for children with additional needs and Indigenous children are given priority, so that the gap between these groups and other children is minimised, not exacerbated.

In addition, alternative child care subsidy structures, emphasising targeting to the most disadvantaged children and families, could help ensure access to services for those who would benefit most.

The report is the second in a series of three Commission studies covering the workforces of Vocational Education and Training, Early Childhood Development and Schools.

Background information

Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443

  • Preliminaries
    • Cover, Copyright, Foreword, Terms of reference, Contents, Acknowledgment, Abbreviations and explanations and Glossary
  • Overview - including key points
  • Findings and Recommendations
  • Chapter 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 What has the Commission been asked to do?
    • 1.2 Why is the ECD workforce study important?
    • 1.3 Conduct of the study
    • 1.4 Structure of the report
  • Chapter 2 The early childhood development sector
    • 2.1 What are early childhood development services?
    • 2.2 Who provides early childhood development services?
    • 2.3 Who uses early childhood development services?
    • 2.4 Who pays for early childhood development services?
    • 2.5 Who regulates early childhood development services?
  • Chapter 3 Government involvement in the early childhood development sector
    • 3.1 Government roles in the early childhood development sector
    • 3.2 Government objectives in the early childhood development sector
    • 3.3 New policy agendas
    • 3.4 Challenges for the new policy agendas
    • 3.5 Funding the new policy agendas
  • Chapter 4 The early childhood education and care workforce
    • 4.1 The changing role of the ECEC workforce
    • 4.2 The ECEC workforce
    • 4.3 Pay and conditions in ECEC
    • 4.4 Career pathways in the ECEC workforce
    • 4.5 Recruitment, retention and tenure in the ECEC workforce
    • 4.6 Where is the ECEC workforce employed?
    • 4.7 Volunteers play an important but declining role in the ECEC workforce
  • Chapter 5 The preschool, long day care and occasional care workforce
    • 5.1 Key features of the preschool, long day care and occasional care workforce
    • 5.2 Demand for preschool, long day care and occasional care teachers and educators
    • 5.3 Supply of early childhood teachers
    • 5.4 Supply of qualified educators
    • 5.5 Other issues in preschool, long day care and occasional care labour supply
  • Chapter 6 The family day care workforce
    • 6.1 Provision of family day care
    • 6.2 Effect of the National Quality Standard on demand for family day care educators and coordinators
    • 6.3 Effect of the National Quality Standard on the supply of family day care educators and coordinators
    • 6.4 Pedagogical leadership
  • Chapter 7 The outside school hours care workforce
    • 7.1 Outside school hours care
    • 7.2 Changes in the outside school hours care sector
    • 7.3 What will the COAG ECEC reforms mean for outside school hours care?
    • 7.4 Qualifications for the outside school hours care workforce
  • Chapter 8 The ECEC workforce for children with additional needs
    • 8.1 The ECEC workforce for children with additional needs
    • 8.2 Demand for ECEC workers for children with additional needs
    • 8.3 Supply of ECEC workers for children with additional needs
    • 8.4 Equipping the mainstream workforce to provide ECEC for children with additional needs
  • Chapter 9 The ECEC workforce in rural and remote areas
    • 9.1 Demand for ECEC workers in rural and remote areas
    • 9.2 Supply of ECEC workers in rural and remote areas
  • Chapter 10 Training and developing the ECEC workforce
    • 10.1 Qualifications and the quality of early childhood education and care
    • 10.2 Vocational education and training in early childhood education and care
    • 10.3 Ensuring quality in vocational education and training
    • 10.4 Other issues in VET for the ECEC workforce
    • 10.5 Higher education for ECEC workers
    • 10.6 Professional development and support
    • 10.7 Other issues in training and professional development
  • Chapter 11 Planning the early childhood education and care workforce
    • 11.1 Components of an ECEC workforce strategy
    • 11.2 Current ECEC workforce policies
    • 11.3 Implications for the Early Years Development Workforce Strategy
    • 11.4 Data requirements for the Early Years Development Workforce Strategy
  • Chapter 12 Child health workforce
    • 12.1 Characteristics of the child health workforce
    • 12.2 Demand for child and family health nurses
    • 12.3 Supply of child and family health nurses
    • 12.4 Training and workforce planning for child and family health nurses
  • Chapter 13 Workforce for family support services
    • 13.1 The workforce for family support services
    • 13.2 Demand for workers to provide family support services
    • 13.3 Supply of workers to provide family support services
    • 13.4 Training and workforce planning for family support services
  • Chapter 14 ECD workforce for Indigenous children
    • 14.1 ECEC services for Indigenous children
    • 14.2 ECEC workforce for Indigenous children
    • 14.3 The National Quality Framework
    • 14.4 Policy implications for ECEC services for Indigenous children
    • 14.5 Policy implications for the ECEC workforce for Indigenous children
  • Chapter 15 The integrated ECD services workforce
    • 15.1 Integrated ECD services
    • 15.2 The integrated ECD services workforce
    • 15.3 Implications for the integrated ECD services workforce
  • Appendix A Public consultation
  • References

Please note: The following appendices are only available online and are not included in the printed report.

  • Appendix B Early childhood development data
  • Appendix C The evidence base for early childhood development policy
  • Appendix D Early childhood development systems and workers in other countries
  • Appendix E Modelling the workforce impacts of the COAG ECEC reforms
  • Appendix F Institutional arrangements in the early childhood development sector
  • Appendix G Referee reports

Printed copies

Printed copies of this report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

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