Today the United Workers Union (UWU) has released a ground-breaking report showing the early education is on the brink of crisis.
In the largest survey of its kind, nearly 4000 current and former educators revealed they are leaving the sector at record levels because of excessive workloads and low pay.
Over a quarter of current educators reported they plan to leave the sector within the next twelve months, and of those educators who do plan to stay, almost half (46%) think about leaving ‘all of the time’ or ‘most of the time’. In contrast, projections show the sector needs 40,000 additional staff by 2023 to meet growing demand for early learning services.
“The message from early educators across the country is clear: they are at breaking point. There is no early childhood sector without early educators, and they simply can’t afford to stay and hold it together anymore,” said UWU’s Early Education Director Helen Gibbons.
“The pandemic has exacerbated an existing problem, with job vacancies close to doubling compared to pre-COVID levels. High workload because of increased understaffing is pushing more and more educators out of the sector.
The report Exhausted, undervalued and leaving: the crisis in early education also found:
- 70% of educators surveyed said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ worry about their financial situation.
- 81% of centre directors say they have had difficulties in attracting and recruiting staff.
- 92% of educators told us ‘under-the-roof’ ratios compromise the safety and wellbeing of children.
- 65% of educators report that their services are already understaffed, and providers are reporting having to cap new enrolments because they can’t find enough staff.
- 82% of current educators say that in the past month they ‘always’ or ‘often’ felt rushed when performing key caring and/or educational tasks.
- Over 75% of educators strongly agree that turnover negatively impacts how children learn and develop as well as their emotional wellbeing more broadly.
- Almost half of educators surveyed would not recommend ECEC as a career.
- Every state and territory was represented. Key findings: NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, ACT, TAS, and NT
“Services are already reporting having to cap new enrolments. Without urgent action, this crisis will spiral out of control and children and families will miss out, losing access to crucial early learning services.
“Across the sector, educators, families and service providers are in agreement: the only way to fix this crisis is to fix educators wages and conditions. The Federal Government is currently considering a workforce strategy for early education. This is the opportunity for the Government to provide a real solution for the sector: by delivering a workforce strategy that provides targeted funding to improve wages.”
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