The time to start a career in early childhood education and care is now

Monday, March 22, 2021

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a growing, dynamic sector, where opportunities for satisfying work, a meaningful and valued contribution, and career prospects are only increasing.

In ECEC you’ll find a career for life, with opportunities for progression into leadership positions for those who want to take the next step.

Career in early childhood education and care

A growing sector

Some of the sector’s projected growth is due to population growth, the increase of children in early learning services, and more parents returning to work.

But it’s also due to the increasing recognition of early childhood education as a key component in children’s future outcomes. Research has been increasingly showing the impactful contribution early childhood makes to society. And that contribution is being recognised by growing financial commitment from governments.

Meeting staffing demands is already a challenge, but over the next five years, the sector is expecting to see an increase in the following jobs across Australia:

  • Education aides (20.8% or 18,800 jobs)
  • Early learning centre managers (20.9% growth to 16,000 jobs)
  • Primary school teachers (9.6% or 16,300 jobs)
  • Secondary school teachers (7.1% or 9,900 jobs).

The sector has been evolving over time in response to key reviews and emerging research that position it as a pillar of an effective and healthy society.

Governments are committed to support early childhood education and care

The growth the sector is experiencing is also due to governments at every level committing to support it.

In Victoria, the state government has allocated $881.6 million to the rollout of its new three-year-old kinder ‘best start best life’ program, which was launched in 2020. Initially, the program created demand for 2,000 new educator roles and 4,000 new qualified teacher roles. To help with this demand, the Victorian government also committed $9,000 incentives to support early childhood educators moving to areas where three-year-old kinder is being rolled out to, and 300 scholarships to aspiring kinder teachers.

NSW also saw a big jump in the ECEC sector spending. At the beginning of 2021, the state government announced a $667.6 million budget to support access to three and four-year old kinder.

The NSW’s Early Childhood Education Workforce Strategy focuses on promoting the profession, and supporting the workforce to obtain qualifications to prepare them for the workplace.

The Queensland State Government also increased their commitment in 2020 (to $293 million) to funding universal access to early learning for children in the year before school, and to enhance regulation of the ECEC sector. Check if you’re eligible for government funding.

An increasingly valued profession

Educators play a key role in supporting the social, emotional, physical and educational needs of infants and young children in various settings.

But historically, the preschool education profession has faced some misconceptions, which led to educators feeling undervalued. However, abundant research has been confirming the vital role quality early childhood education plays in enhancing the children’s development, and their future outcomes. The research along with the governments’ decisive commitments to support access to quality early childhood education, are important strides towards shifting this perception problem.

During the first wave of shutdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, early childhood education and care was deemed an ‘essential service’ – another step towards recognising the importance of staff in the sector, and putting them in the same category of other valued professions as nurses and aged care workers.

Workforce reform across Australia

The most recent national review to achieve educational excellence in Australian schools through early childhood interventions has identified workforce reforms as a priority for the sector. In particular, a focus on workforce development is recommended.

That’s a recognition of the fact that better outcomes for sector workers (job continuity, remuneration, career progression, etc.) have consistently been associated with positive outcomes for children’s development, the welfare of families and future economic prosperity.

Improving outcomes for ECEC workers is key to improving the overall quality of early education.

The sector is expected to continue adapting as reforms and recommendations are being implemented to improve the quality of education and the quality of the workforce.

Increasing demand for qualifications that prioritise soft skills

Over 57% of employees say they hire workers with Certificate III or higher VET qualifications because those qualifications provide the skills required for the job. They also meet sector standards, or legislative requirements.

SkillsIQ’s 2020 Future Skills Survey, in addition to consultation with sector stakeholders, has revealed that the top five short-to-medium term skills considered extremely important across the ECEC sector include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Capacity to learn
  • Resilience or stress tolerance
  • Emotional intelligence.

Selmar’s approach to learning has a strong emphasis on these soft skills. Our courses are developed in close consultation with the sector, and we support each learner to develop and enhance the skills that will allow them to make a contribution, and have a satisfying career path.

(CHC30113) Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is the entry level qualification for anyone who wants to work in the early childhood education sector. This qualification covers the fundamentals of early childhood development, education and care and gives graduates the skills, knowledge and experience to plan activities to promote children’s learning through play.

(CHC50113) Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care

The Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care is a highly sought after qualification within the sector. Upon completion, graduates will have the skills and knowledge to become a lead educator in the delivery of early childhood education programs for children in centre-based and family day cares.

(CHC62015) Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management

The Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management is a senior management level qualification designed for leaders in the Health and Community sectors including the Early Childhood Education sector.

The sector has been evolving over time in response to key reviews and emerging research that position it as a pillar of an effective and healthy society. A skilled, engaged and professional early childhood workforce is critical to positive life trajectories for children, as well as broader economic and social productivity.

There has never been a better time to choose a career in early childhood education and care.

 

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