The early childhood education and care (ECE) sector is currently experiencing a severe workforce shortage. Ongoing challenges related to attracting and retaining ECE educators and teachers have paired with increasing community ECE demand and the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic to
exacerbate the situation. As a result, ECE services and organisations are experiencing an inability to staff services, and parents are experiencing employment barriers because they are unable to access an ECE service.

Existing research literature and National survey data have identified that ECE educators’ and teachers1’ wages and employment conditions form a significant barrier to efforts to increase and retain a capable and effective ECE workforce. The evidence strongly suggests that historical inequities related to ECE employment conditions has deterred people from entering the profession and has caused dissatisfied staff to see employment in other sectors and professions.

This report forms the first output of a research project commissioned by the ACT Education Directorate, on behalf of the Education Ministers Meeting (EMM) to investigate the pay and employment conditions of the ECE workforce. The commissioned study is a key action of the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy – Shaping Our Future: a ten-year strategy to ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce 2022-2031. Shaping Our Future (the Strategy) is a ten-year national workforce strategy to help ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce. This research responds to Focus Area 1 in this pivotal policy document – Professional recognition of the ECEC workforce and responds to the recommendation to ‘investigate options for improving pay and conditions’.

The report provides a briefing on the current ECE workforce context and the workforce relations context of the ECE sector. It includes a summary of existing statistics on the ECE workforce, including demand, supply, retention and workforce relations. A more comprehensive discussion of these issues then follows, providing contextual detail of the ECE workforce issues, policy initiatives, and workforce relations regulatory system.

The report concludes with an overview of the research which has been designed to generate at national and local level recommendations for workforce relations and ECE policy and management reform. The project method and timeline and key deliverables are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNorth Ryde, NSW
PublisherMacquarie University
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023


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