From staff shortages and restrictions to centre closures and burnout among staff, early childhood education and care has been faced with a complex series of challenges since the onset of the pandemic.
We know the sector is currently experiencing a serious skills shortage. To improve the situation, we need dedicated and capable educators entering early childhood education who can contribute to the sector and ease the burden felt by many early learning centres.
There’s a hidden pipeline of skilled workers out there – you just need to know where to look. It’s now more important than ever to foster collaborative relationships between sector partners and business leaders in early childhood education and care.
Skilled workers to thrive in early childhood education
Around 6,000 new educators is the estimated figure needed to combat the stress on the early childhood sector.
That seems like a huge figure, but what if we told you that in the past year at Practical Outcomes the number of learners we have seen complete certified courses in early childhood and education and care was in the thousands? The workforce is there – it’s just about making the connection between graduation and employment.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. New entrants to the sector can be apprehensive, which can lead to missed opportunities. Likewise, centre directors and managerial teams may be reluctant to hire newly qualified educators.
When considering taking on newly qualified educators it’s natural to weigh up the pros and cons, and one of the things centre management has to think about is the administrative load. With the current strain on early learning centres many directors and leaders just don’t have the time to deal with the paperwork and training. You can look at it two ways. Rather than seeing it as a reason not to employ newly qualified educators, why not see it as a reason to seek extra support?
To help address the workforce shortage, early learning centres can work with RTOs and sector partners to find recruitment solutions. There are three practical ways to do so, which we’ve outlined below.
Three pathways to access talent
1. Partner with RTOs and accept placement learners
Our early childhood education and care courses are updated regularly to reflect the needs of the sector. Practical placement is an integral part of getting qualified, giving learners the opportunity to implement the skills they’re developing in a real workplace. Taking on placement learners is a good opportunity for centre directors to gain a few pairs of extra hands, supervise their training, and develop relationships with potential future employees.
2. Take advantage of wage subsidies
One positive aspect arising from the pandemic is new funding opportunities in early childhood education and care. There is plenty of government funding out there if you know where to look, and our Practical Outcomes team can assist centre management in finding the right funding to support recruitment initiatives. This might come in the form of wage subsidies or employment support for trainees.
Available funding includes:
- JobTrainer funding – designed to support existing care workers to access training and to assist new educators to kick start their career
- Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement fund (BAC) – offsets the cost of traineeships by 50% over a 12-month period
- Jobs Victoria Fund – wage subsidies of up to $20,000 are available to offset the cost of employing someone for 12 months
3. Take on trainees
Early childhood education and care relies on highly trained, engaged and passionate educators who are invested in the wellbeing and development of the children in their care. One way to shape a passionate workforce and tackle the skills shortage is through traineeships.
Traineeships are beneficial for everyone. They provide learners with invaluable on-the-job experience and the ability to earn while they learn. The benefits extend to employers: taking on trainees means being able to oversee their learning and shape new educators according to the needs of your centre.
How we support sector growth
Early childhood education and care is an essential sector and its importance and value is becoming increasingly recognised by the wider community. At Practical Outcomes our goal is to support the sector in committed and practical ways, which is why we partner with early learning centres to develop recruitment strategies and support.
Some of the key areas in which we can assist both learners and centres are:
- Flexible learning options including online delivery
- Dedicated Learner Support team
- Practical placement support, including visits from your placement supervisor
- Experienced trainers who know the ins and outs of the industry
- Assisting with the traineeship process, including liaising between centre directors and Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) providers to remove the administrative burden
- Assisting centre directors with information to determine eligibility for wage subsidies and funding
- Regular visits to check in with trainees, learners on placement and centre staff in order to streamline their training
- Provide training to new entrants and upskilling opportunities for current staff
- Provide subsidised training opportunities through JobTrainer and Skills First government schemes
An opportunity to work together
Rather than seeing the skills shortage as a crisis, we might think of it as an opportunity to work together. Fostering meaningful relationships between RTOs, sector partners and centre management means creating a safety net and a strong support network the sector can rely on. Similarly, if you’re a learner or new educator in the sector, know that there are many ways your training organisation can connect you with meaningful work.
To find out more about how we can support you to find employment solutions, contact the team at Practical Outcomes today.