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.
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.
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