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Children’s Education and Care

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Children’s Education and Care sector, which is one component of the Community Services industry.

This sector provides education, care and support to children under eighteen years of age. The sub-sectors include:

  • Early childhood education and care (ECEC)
  • School age education and care
  • Outside school hours care (OSHC)
  • Education support.

The sector is large, diverse and growing. Children's education and care services operate under a number of different ownership/management arrangements, including private operators, community and non-profit organisations, state/territory and local governments, and public, independent and private schools. Service types recognised within the National Quality Framework (NQF) are Long-Day Care (LDC), Family Day Care (FDC), Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) and Preschools/Kindergartens.

Nationally recognised training for Children’s Education and Care occupations is delivered under the CHC – Community Services Training Package.

For more information on Community Sector and Development and Direct Client Care and Support please visit the respective pages.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment in the Child Care Services and Preschool Education industry sectors has increased over time, with further projected increases until 2025. Within these industry groupings Child Carers (also referred to in the industry as Early Childhood Educators) are the largest occupational group. It is also projected that the number of those employed as Child Carers will increase substantially (30%) between 2021 and 2025. Employment numbers in other relevant occupations within these sectors are also projected to increase up until 2025. Education Aides are projected to increase by 23%, Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers by 7% and Child Care Centre Managers by 4%

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 135,800 program enrolments in Children’s Education and Care-related qualifications in 2020 and around 31,380 program completions. Enrolments and completions have fluctuated between 2016 and 2020.

Program enrolments were split mainly between the certificate III level (55%) and the diploma or higher level (34%) in 2020. Seventy-four percent of all enrolments were in the area of Early Childhood Education and Care with an intended occupation of Child Care Worker. A further 25% of enrolments were in Education Support with an intended occupation of Teachers’ Aide.

In 2020, 60% of enrolments were with private training providers, while TAFE institutes accounted for a further 29%. The majority of subjects were Commonwealth and state funded (67%) or funded by domestic fee for service (26%). New South Wales had the single highest proportion of students enrolled in Children’s Education and Care-related qualifications in 2020, with 29%, followed by Queensland with 22% and Victoria with 22%.

A third of training was delivered in New South Wales (33%), followed by 29% in Queensland and 22% in Victoria.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements have declined since 2012 but there was a much larger decline after 2014. There was also a large decline in completions after 2014. The vast majority of apprentices and trainees in 2020 had the intended occupation of Child Care Worker (94%). The largest proportion of apprentices and trainees were reported by New South Wales with 46%, followed by Queensland with 18% and Victoria with 14%.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

For more data specific to your region please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Children’s Education and Care IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests the top priority skills for the sector are all soft skills, ranging from teamwork and communication through to stress tolerance and flexibility. The top five identified generic skills are:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) (Foundation skills)
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self management (adaptability)
  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Customer Service / Marketing.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers in the sector were communication skills and building effective relationships. The most advertised occupations were Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers followed by Child Carers. The top employers were Goodstart Childcare Limited, G8 Education Pty Ltd and Guardian Early Learning Group. The top locations for job advertisements were New South Wales, followed by Queensland and Victoria.

The Children’s Education and Care IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, affirms that educators play a key role in supporting the social, emotional, physical and educational needs of infants and young children in various early childhood settings. Children are a vulnerable group in society and quite often people working in the Children’s Education and Care sectors are in a position to identify concerns and to work with families, allied health professionals and broader groups within communities with respect to sensitive matters which affect children’s health and wellbeing. This means that emotional intelligence and ‘soft’ skills, in addition to strong communication and the ability to engage with children, have always been critically important attributes among workers in the sector.

The above Skills Forecast summarises the challenges which need to be addressed in the sector as:

  • Government policy/legislative framework reviews and modifications
  • The attraction and retention of staff
  • The challenges faced by regional and remote communities
  • The need for diversity and variance in perspectives
  • The need for ongoing professional development.

The Children’s Education and Care IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also states that the Children’s Education and Care (CEC) sub-sectors are all experiencing skills shortages with their current workforce. Skills gaps identified represent a combination of technical and 'soft skill' areas, with examples including:

  • Digital literacy and computer application
  • Language, literacy and numeracy (LLN)
  • Communication (to engage with families, work peers, allied health professionals, etc.)
  • Business skills (in particular for Family Day Care providers, to become adept at understanding the liabilities and responsibilities, including risk management, of running a small business)
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership of, and within, work groups
  • Reflection.

Reflection is a particular skill area that has been raised during the update work of the CEC Training Package. Terminology and associated practices have implications for the skills acquired and used by educators throughout their careers. Reflective practice is increasingly recognised as an essential skill area for educators to possess, as it is considered highly effective in supporting children's advanced learning and development. Industry has particularly voiced that 'critical reflection' is a high-level cognitive skill that needs to be learnt and developed over time with practical experience.

The above Skills Forecast also draws attention to an area for possible future development – the emerging need for national Training Package Products that address two key leadership skills areas. Firstly, there is a growing awareness of the importance of management skills for those in senior positions in Children’s Education and Care services. These include finance and administration and, particularly, skills needed for the management of staff. Secondly, every service under the National Quality Framework (NQF) is required to have a designated Educational Leader, and there is an emerging need for education and training with a focus on pedagogical leadership. This could lead to an Advanced Diploma qualification with two alternative streams: managerial leadership and educational leadership.

Staff retention is a significant issue within the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector. There is competition between long-day care services and preschools/schools to attract and retain teachers. Preschools/schools typically offer teachers higher salaries, shorter and more consistent hours, more leave entitlements and a professional status. As a result, many ECEC teachers leave the long-day care sector due to relatively low wages, longer hours, low professional status and difficult work conditions (i.e. both physically demanding and stressful). The Children’s Education and Care IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast cites a recent Australian study that found one in five educators plan to leave their job within twelve months due to low pay, feeling undervalued and an increase in the amount of time spent on paperwork. Cited reasons for low pay in the ECEC sector include: a high proportion of female workers; dependency of educators on modern awards that set minimum standards of pay and conditions; and various funding models that operate in the sector. The current low level of remuneration makes it difficult to retain highly qualified staff. Furthermore, the unfavourable work circumstances can act as barriers to educators investing additional time and resources into upskilling/professionalisation.

The issue of staff turnover can act as a disincentive to employers to invest in workplace training. However, ongoing professional development opportunities are necessary for quality provision of ECEC services. ECEC is recognised as a profession that requires strong and broad-reaching relationship-building skills as well as specialist skills and knowledge which support children's development and learning. Quality professional development learning opportunities are required to ensure workforce skills remain updated and relevant to the workplace environment, and to ensure that industry is kept abreast of evidence-based theory and practice. Additionally, professional development must continue post-qualification to support the embedding of learning. The National Quality Standard outlines the requirement for continuous improvement through the implementation of 'effective self-assessment and quality improvement processes'. Well-trained and qualified ECEC educators equipped with the relevant knowledge, skills and attributes provide quality outcomes for children. The NQF supports professionalisation through its updated and nationally consistent qualification requirements and references to capability, leadership, teaching and learning. The promotion of qualification pathways and professional learning expectations can also contribute to improved professionalisation in the industry.

The Children’s Education and Care IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast (abridged annual update) includes information about staff shortages. The longstanding staff shortages in this sector make it difficult for some providers to meet the National Quality Framework (NQF) staffing requirements, which are essential to continuing to lift quality in the sector. Recent changes to the legislation make it more imperative that greater action is taken to address these shortages so that policy objectives related to quality can be realised. From 1 January 2020, providers of Long Day Care services and Preschools/Kindergartens need to have a second early childhood teacher (ECT) or, alternatively, a 'suitably qualified person', when 60 or more children of preschool age or under are being educated and cared for. The Diploma qualification, in conjunction with a primary or secondary teaching qualification and Australian teacher registration (Accreditation in NSW) is recognised for this purpose. Services located in New South Wales were unaffected by these changes, as additional ECT staffing requirements have been in place for several years. In some jurisdictions, transitional provisions have been extended multiple times in response to ongoing workforce challenges and concerns.

The Children's Education and Care sector is facing a shortage of professionals with leadership skills to fulfil leadership and management roles. There has been an established awareness of the importance of management skills for those in senior positions in Children's Education and Care services, and requirements vary based on the structure of services and how responsibilities are assigned within an organisation. In addition, there is now a growing emphasis on operational leadership skills for all job roles within services. Contrasting to finance and administration, and skills in leading staff, there is a value being placed on the ability of people working effectively as part of a team, exercising leadership in the day to day routines and logistics to enable the smooth operation of services. An additional type of leadership in the sector is pedagogical leadership. Every service under the NQF is required to have a designated Educational Leader, and there is an emerging need for education and training with a focus on the development and application of these skills. SkillsIQ and the Children's Education and Care IRC will continue to liaise with the sector to measure the need and nature of such future training products.

The OECD report Good Practice for Good Jobs in Early Childhood Education and Care, confirms that around the world, as in Australia, recruiting and retaining skilled staff is a long-standing challenge for the ECEC sector. OECD countries are increasingly demanding that ECEC staff be highly skilled and highly qualified, but a combination of low wages, a lack of status and public recognition, poor working conditions, and limited opportunities for professional development mean that recruitment and retention are frequently difficult. This report considers: What can countries do to build a highly qualified and well-trained ECEC workforce? What is the best route to increasing staff skills without exacerbating staff shortages? How can countries boost pay and working conditions in the context of limited resources? Building on past OECD work on ECEC, and drawing on the experience of OECD countries, the report outlines good practice policy measures for improving jobs in ECEC and for constructing a high-quality workforce.

The OECD report Building a High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce: Further Results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018, looks at the makeup of the ECEC workforce across countries, assessing how initial preparation programmes compare across different systems, what types of in-service training and informal learning activities help staff to upgrade their skills, and what staff say about their working conditions, as well as identifying policies that can reduce staff stress levels and increase well-being at work. The report also looks at which leadership and managerial practices in ECEC centres contribute to improving the skills, working conditions and working methods of staff.

Diversity is a characteristic of early childhood education in contemporary Australia. Children engaging with early childhood contexts come from a range of social, economic, cultural and ability groups, and bring with them a considerable variation in life's experiences. Opening Eyes Onto Inclusion and Diversity in Early Childhood Education argues that effective early childhood educators understand that creating an inclusive learning environment that is responsive to a diverse range of characteristics and needs, can be a challenging and overwhelming endeavour with sometimes limited or underwhelming results. This chapter explores what educators can do to create inclusive early childhood contexts that provide children and families with the opportunity to develop understandings of difference and diversity and what skills they need to achieve positive outcomes.

The policy proposals presented by the Mitchell Institute in Every Educator Matters: Evidence for a New Early Childhood Workforce Strategy for Australia, cover four stages of an ECEC career, from making the decision to enter the ECEC sector, through to ongoing professional learning and career development. They include:

  • A national approach to achieving professional pay and conditions for all early childhood educators, including co-investment models between governments and employers
  • A national campaign to promote ECEC careers, emphasising the benefits of ECEC for children's learning and development, and for Australia's economic productivity
  • High-quality education and training for all educators, including better consistency in vocational education and training and university courses that prepare teachers to work with all age groups
  • Additional support to beginning educators, as well as to those who may require additional support with English language, literacy or numeracy to reach their full potential
  • New national standards for educator wellbeing to ensure that ECEC services look after educators' physical and emotional health, and set clear expectations for educators' workloads
  • Investment in professional learning, leadership development, and specialisations (such as working with vulnerable communities), to enable educators to pursue rewarding careers.

The Framework to Inform the Development of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy has been created to inform renewed and dedicated efforts to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have the best start in life, wherever they live in Australia. One of the key focus areas is: Access to affordable, quality early childhood education and care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Progress in Closing the Gap on this measure will be reflected by increases in ECEC attendance and Australian Education Development Census (AEDC) outcomes. In 2018, 84.6% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were enrolled in a preschool program the year before full-time schooling, compared to 88.8% for non-Indigenous children. The Closing the Gap target is to increase the percentage to 95% by 2025. In 2018, 70% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were enrolled in early childhood education attended at least 600 hours of a preschool program before full time schooling in a year, compared to 82.7 % for non-Indigenous children. The Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) is part of the Child Care Safety Net. Grants awarded under the CCCF support child care services to address barriers to participation, particularly in disadvantaged communities, provide sustainability support for child care services experiencing viability issues and provide capital support to increase the supply of child care places in areas of high unmet demand.

The South Australian Education Workforce Insights report states that in South Australia children can attend preschool from age four, a service offered by government kindergartens and through private providers such as Early Learning Centres and long day care centres. The importance of early education has become a focus and education standards and quality frameworks are demanding increasing qualification attainment and professionalism from those educating children. This has increased the demand for qualifications in the preschool workforce and, coupled with projected increases in childcare centres operating in South Australia, indicates a future shortage of childcare workers, centre managers, and early childhood educators. An expected 2,000 additional early childhood (pre-primary school) teachers, child carers and childcare centre managers will be needed. Industry calculates that meeting this need will require individuals completing about 1,000 more certificate III and 1,000 more diploma qualifications.

Set Up for Success: An Early Childhood Strategy for the ACT has been designed to build on and guide the delivery of high-quality ECEC, and support workforce participation for families, particularly for women, with an over-arching goal to achieve an education system that sets all children up for success. From an educator perspective, the Phase 1 strategy will focus on immediate challenges such as developing a workforce strategy, improving coaching, mentoring and training, and improving pathways into the profession.

The report of the Inquiry into Early Childhood Engagement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities provides a vision to enhance the diversity of the workforce in Victoria and improve its capacity to engage culturally diverse children and families. A key area of reform discussed throughout the inquiry related to ensuring that the early childhood workforce is responsive to the needs of culturally diverse communities. The Committee heard evidence on a number of workforce themes. The first related to specific professional development activities that should be widely delivered to ensure staff have the skills and capacity to form effective and trusting relationships with culturally diverse children and their families. There is a need for cultural competency training for staff working in early childhood services to remove barriers for culturally diverse families, improve engagement and enhance communication. There is also a need for training in trauma-informed care in mainstream services due to increasing numbers of communities of refugee and asylum seeker background settling in Victoria.

Secondly, there is a need to expand the number of bicultural and bilingual workers in the sector, given their key role in bridging the gap between families and service providers. There are opportunities to grow the bicultural and bilingual workforce in rural and regional areas of Victoria, with increasing settlement of culturally diverse communities in those areas. The Committee heard that one of the key barriers to entry into the workforce for culturally diverse communities is attaining the requisite Australian qualifications and accessing ongoing mentoring and support. The Committee heard of difficulties faced by individuals, including parents themselves, in having their overseas qualifications and experience recognised in Australia's ECEC sector.

The Government Response agrees with the Committee that targeted action and investment is needed to ensure that the ECEC workforce responds to the needs of culturally diverse communities. A number of new and expanded initiatives and responses are being developed to address the projected kindergarten workforce supply needs related to the roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten across Victoria, and to respond to the need for a more culturally and linguistically diverse workforce. The roll-out of universal, funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will mean the creation of more than 6,000 teaching jobs across the state. More than 4,000 new teachers and 2,000 new educators are needed over the next 10 years to meet the anticipated demand. The Department of Education and Training recognises that increased participation and representation by multicultural communities in the early childhood workforce would better reflect the diversity of Victoria's population. Communications and engagement activities target multicultural populations, promoting early childhood education as a rewarding career, and motivating prospective candidates to consider a career as a kindergarten teacher. The introduction from 1 January 2020 of Free TAFE for Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, and for the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, as well as scholarships for further study and training, is opening up opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse people to become teachers and educators at kindergartens.

In 2022, three-year-old children across Victoria will be able to attend at least five hours of funded kindergarten a week. This is a significant milestone on the road to a 15-hour per week, state-wide program for Victorian children by 2029. It will be the teachers and educators who will make it a success. The Victorian Government has a broad-reaching strategy to support the attraction, retention, and quality of the early childhood workforce. This includes investment in a $174.2 million workforce package to attract and retain staff and support high-quality kindergarten programs. The policy paper Working Together to Build Victoria's Early Childhood Education Workforce, invited all sector stakeholders to be part of the next stage of Victoria's early childhood workforce strategy. The new strategy, including an engagement summary, will be released in the second half of 2021.

The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) Submission to the Victorian Early Childhood Workforce Strategy reiterates that building a sustainable and diverse early childhood education workforce is integral to achieving the government and sector's vision of ensuring every Victorian child has access to two years of high-quality early learning. VCOSS argues that workplace culture is important as there is a direct correlation between investment in professional development (for example, leadership training), staff wellbeing and staff tenure. The sector will continue to lose educators and teachers unless there is greater investment in their wellbeing and professional development. The Victorian community is increasingly diverse and early childhood educators and teachers are dealing with greater complexity. Pay and conditions currently do not appropriately reflect this complexity, for example, the amount of time and the skills that staff require to manage relationships with families and manage families' expectations. This is exacerbated by gaps in pre-service training that mean staff are entering the sector not sufficiently prepared to respond to children and families who have multiple and complex needs. Where staff have access to professional development, there is often insufficient time and support to develop and put into practice their new skills (for example, to undertake complex communication and engagement support with children and families). There are inequities in support available to VET-qualified early childhood educators compared to Bachelor-qualified early childhood teachers. For example, all staff can benefit from mentoring which can help to embed knowledge and develop their practice. However, VET-qualified early childhood educators do not enjoy the same access to Victorian Government mentoring initiatives as Bachelor-qualified teachers.

It has been demonstrated time and again that the quality of the early childhood and care sector is inextricably tied to the quality of training provided to those who work in it. The article To Support a High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce We Must Rebuild With TAFE, argues that a strong TAFE sector is the only way to provide the necessary vocational education and training at a scale that fills workforce shortages with skilled and capable educators in the early childhood sector. Restoring funding to TAFE will create a triple dividend for Australia: a skilled and capable workforce to address current and future regional shortages, increased workforce participation to boost the economy and improved early learning outcomes for Australian children.

Based on recent conversations with employers about their recruitment plans, Hays has developed a list of The Most In-Demand Skills for 2021. The skills in greatest demand in this sector are:

  • Centre Directors who hold early childhood teaching qualifications – due to the increasing number of childcare centres
  • Early Childhood Teachers – the low salaries associated with this role continue to add to the shortage of Early Childhood Teachers
  • Diploma qualified OOSH Coordinators – regulatory changes necessitate a higher ratio of diploma qualified staff per centre. While some employers offer on-the-job traineeships, many instead want Coordinators who are already diploma trained.

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) media release in September 2021, The Class of 2021 Urged to Grab a Future-Proof Career in Early Learning, announced a new national campaign that seeks to entice secondary school students into the early learning and care sector. Across YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, the 'Big Roles in Little Lives' campaign promotes the incredible impact early childhood professionals can have on children. The campaign encourages teenagers to consider a career that is future-proof, with the opportunity to guide the learning and wellbeing of the next generation of Australians. The Australian Government has forecast that demand for early learning and care will create an extra 23,900 jobs for early childhood professionals by 2025. This includes educators at every level, from Certificate III graduates up to degree-qualified Early Childhood Teachers, so now is a great time for young people to consider enrolling at a vocational education provider or university to study early childhood education in 2022.

COVID-19 impact

Early Learning and COVID-19: Experiences of Teachers and Educators at the Start of the Pandemic states that COVID-19 shone a light on the critical importance of early childhood education and care (ECEC). Never before had the sector's value to children, working families, businesses and broader society been so clear, and experienced first-hand by so many people. As 'essential workers', early childhood teachers and educators helped keep businesses, communities and families functioning, and children learning, throughout the pandemic. They continuously supported children and families, from the early stages of the pandemic and throughout, so that Australian communities and the nation more broadly could find a new sense of stability.

How Families Experience ECEC reveals that ECEC had an enormous impact on Australian families during the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey of over 1,000 parents and carers of young children showed that an overwhelming 97% thought ECEC was important during the pandemic. Parents relied on early learning centres for their children's education and wellbeing while they tried to continue working, find new jobs and respond to continuous change caused by the pandemic. Interestingly, when asked what they valued most about ECEC, more parents said they valued the learning and development opportunities that it provides for their children over opportunities for work and study. For many families, ECEC provided stability for children during COVID-19. ECEC was cemented as a critical service during the early stages of the pandemic when Government introduced significant reform to encourage more families to access early learning. This was necessary to address challenges that families were experiencing at the time, such as employment uncertainty, restricted access to support networks and disruption to children's learning and development.

COVID-19 Information for the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector outlines the measures implemented by the Australian Government throughout 2020 and 2021 to help the ECEC sector manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first half of 2020, the ECEC sector was impacted by COVID-19, with lower attendance in formal (or approved) care services (which includes centre-based day care (CBDC), outside school hours care (OSHC) and family day care (FDC)) particularly noticeable according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) report Child Care in 2020. The informal provision of childcare was also affected. Such care is often provided by grandparents, and was affected both by restrictions and heightened concerns over protecting the health of older Australians. In 2020, childcare patterns were significantly disrupted by the effects of COVID-19 and related restrictions, as well as financial and health concerns, and parents more often working at home. The introduction of free childcare for some months in 2020 was a major change for families and the childcare sector. However, by the end of 2020, free childcare had ended and patterns of childcare use were similar to those at the beginning of 2020.

Australia's high out-of-pocket childcare costs bit even harder for families that lost jobs or hours because of the COVID-19 crisis. The Grattan Institute report Cheaper Childcare: A Practical Plan to Boost Female Workforce Participation, argues that childcare should be made cheaper to enable more women to do more paid work, and to help lift the economy out of the COVID-19 recession.

The WA Recovery Plan acknowledges that Australian women have experienced the greatest economic and social impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to several factors, including female-dominated industries being harder hit by the crisis, and the higher proportion of women in casual and insecure work. This is further compounded by the important roles women have played in supporting their families during the pandemic, balancing work and carer responsibilities. The Western Australian Government's wider investment in skills and training, including retraining opportunities, will help support women's economic independence in the recovery phase. The $62 million recovery package for TAFE has expanded the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative to include female-dominated industry courses. Courses include early childhood education and community services.

HESTA's State of the Sector 2021: Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Insights report argues that the ECEC sector is at a critical juncture. The industry is forecast to expand substantially in the next five years, but at the same time, the sector is competing with other education and health sectors in a 'war for talent'. This difficulty in attracting and retaining professionals is not only a potential barrier to future growth, but may impact the quality of services provided. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, ECEC professionals returned a much stronger positive sentiment towards their employers and leaders in the 2020 survey compared to 2019. Most survey participants (87%) reported feeling supported by their employers during the pandemic. Through several questions a theme of closer connection with their employers, teams and leader emerged. They reported feeling more appreciated by their employers, and were able to maintain high levels of satisfaction in their work. This led to significant increases in the likelihood professionals would recommend working for their specific employer and leaders, as well as recommend the services of their employer.

However, large numbers of ECEC professionals (43%) were not likely to recommend a career in the sector. One in five said they intended to leave the industry in the short term, with participants citing low levels of pay and a lack of opportunity to develop new skills as two of the top three key reasons for leaving their employers. Additionally, nearly one in three professionals felt the sector was not valued by the broader community. There is a persistent image of their work being 'just babysitting'. This negative bias appears to be reinforced by structural factors within the industry.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Children’s Education and Care IRC

 

Relevant research

Building a High-Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce: Further Results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018 – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Cheaper Childcare: A Practical Plan to Boost Female Workforce Participation – Grattan Institute

Child Care in 2020 – Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)

COVID-19 in Victorian ECEC and Schools: An Analysis of COVID-19 in ECEC and Schools and Evidence-Based Recommendations for Opening ECEC and Schools and Keeping Them Open – Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI)

COVID-19 Information for the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector – Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package Four Week Review: Summary Report, 18 May 2020 – Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Early Learning and COVID-19: Experiences of Teachers and Educators at the Start of the Pandemic – The Front Project

Education Workforce Insights – South Australian Training and Skills Commission (TASC)

Every Educator Matters: Evidence for a New Early Childhood Workforce Strategy for Australia – Mitchell Institute

Framework to Inform the Development of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Early Childhood Strategy – Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

Good Practice for Good Jobs in Early Childhood Education and Care – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

How Families Experience ECEC – Jane Hunt

Inquiry into Early Childhood Engagement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities – Parliament of Victoria. Legislative Assembly. Legal and Social Issues Committee

Opening Eyes Onto Inclusion and Diversity in Early Childhood Education – Michelle Turner and Amanda Morgan

Providing Quality Early Childhood Education and Care: Results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018 – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Response to the Inquiry into Early Childhood Engagement of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities – Victorian Government

Sector Snapshot: Victoria's Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Sector: December 2020 – Victorian Skills Commissioner

Set Up for Success: An Early Childhood Strategy for the ACT – Australian Capital Territory Government

State of the Sector 2021: Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Insights – HESTA

The Class of 2021 Urged to Grab a Future-Proof Career in Early Learning [media release] – Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA)

The Government Has Again Rescued the Childcare Sector from Collapse. But Short-Term Fixes Still Leave it at Risk – The Conversation

The Most In-Demand Skills for 2021 – Hays

The Role of Professional Development in Improving Quality and Supporting Child Outcomes in Early Education and Care – Iram Siraj, Denise Kingston and Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett

To Support a High Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce We Must Rebuild With TAFE – TAFE Division of the Australian Education Union

VCOSS Submission to the Victorian Early Childhood Workforce Strategy – Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)

WA Recovery Plan – Government of Western Australia

Working Together to Build Victoria's Early Childhood Education Workforce – Victorian Department of Education and Training

 

Government bodies

Australian Capital Territory Government Education Directorate

Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)

Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Government of South Australia Department for Education

Government of Western Australia Department of Education

New South Wales Government Department of Education

Northern Territory Government Department of Education

Queensland Government Department of Education

Tasmanian Government Department of Education

Victoria Government Department of Education and Training

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA)

Australian Community Children's Services (ACCS)

Australian Teacher Aide (ATA)

Australian Tutoring Association (ATA)

Community Child Care (CCC)

Community Early Learning Australia (CELA)

Early Childhood Australia (ECA)

Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA)

Family Day Care Australia

National Outside School Hours Services Alliance (NOSHSA)

Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC)

 

Employee associations

Australian Education Union (AEU)

Australian Services Union (ASU)

United Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2025
    • 871 Child Care Services
    • 801 Preschool Education.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • Child Carers
    • Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers
    • Child Care Centre Managers
    • Education Aides.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit industry, 2001 to 2021, May quarter
    • 871 Child Care Services
    • 801 Preschool Education.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit ANZSIC:
    • 871 Child Care Services
    • 801 Preschool Education
    • 960 Private Households Employing Staff.
  • 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

 

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • CHC Community Services Training Package
  • Children’s Services
    • CHC30402 - Certificate III in Children's Services
    • CHC30708 - Certificate III in Children's Services
    • CHC30712 - Certificate III in Children's Services
    • CHC50302 - Diploma of Children's Services
    • CHC50399 - Diploma of Community Services (Children's Services)
    • CHC60202 - Advanced Diploma of Children's Services
    • CHC60208 - Advanced Diploma of Children's Services.
  • Early Childhood Education and Care
    • CHC30113 - Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
    • CHC50113 - Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
    • CHC50908 - Diploma of Children's Services (Early childhood education and care).
  • Education Support
    • CHC30213 - Certificate III in Education Support
    • CHC30808 - Certificate III in Education Support
    • CHC30812 - Certificate III in Education Support
    • CHC40213 - Certificate IV in Education Support
    • CHC41708 - Certificate IV in Education Support
    • CHC41712 - Certificate IV in Education Support
    • CHC51308 - Diploma of Education Support.
  • Out of School Hours Care
    • CHC41208 - Certificate IV in Children's Services (Outside school hours care)
    • CHC41212 - Certificate IV in Children's Services (Outside school hours care)
    • CHC50202 - Diploma of Out of School Hours Care
    • CHC51008 - Diploma of Children's Services (Outside school hours care).
  • School Age Education and Care
    • CHC40113 - Certificate IV in School Age Education and Care
    • CHC50213 - Diploma of School Age Education and Care.

 

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

 

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Community Services Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / occupations
    • Community and Personal Service Workers, Managers, Professionals
    • 871 Child Care Services
    • 801 Preschool Education.
  • Employers
    • 2411 Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) Teachers
    • 4211 Child Carers
    • 1341 Child Care Centre Managers
    • 2412 Primary School Teachers
    • 4221 Education Aides
    • 871 Child Care Services
    • 801 Preschool Education.
Updated: 26 Oct 2021
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