The WA State Government has released an action plan to further support the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce in regional Western Australia. The Workforce Action Plan addresses nine recommended strategies put forward by the State Training Board's Regional Early Childhood Education and Care Report.
The State Training Board is the Government's chief advisory body on WA's training and workforce needs. Implementing new training opportunities to help build a pipeline of skilled childcare educators remains a key priority for the State Government. According to the ABS Labour Force Survey, as of February 2023 an estimated 14,600 Western Australians are employed as child care workers or child care managers. Over the past 12 months the estimated number employed in these occupations has increased by 1,600.
Many of the initiatives put forward to support the training and development of skilled workers in early childhood education are already underway, including: funding local government grants to help attract and retain childcare workers as part of the State Government's $5.1 million election commitment to improve access to early childhood education and care in regional WA; providing low-fee existing worker traineeships for key early childhood education and care qualifications to help the sector address the need to upskill its workforce; and introducing an Early Childhood Education and Care Job Ready program, which provides entry-level candidates with a pathway into traineeships and jobs in the industry.
Job Ready programs are a fresh approach to short course training that can lead to direct employment. Prepared in collaboration with Community Skills WA, the State Training Board's Regional Early Childhood Education and Care Report was informed by extensive consultation with the regional early childhood education and care sector.
The report and the State Government's Workforce Action Plan are available on the State Training Board's website: https://www.stb.wa.gov.au
Training Minister Simone McGurk said "I commend the State Training Board and Community Skills WA for undertaking this in-depth review of the early childhood education and care workforce challenges in regional WA. This critical sector supports children's development and enables parents to work, and this report will guide how we identify training opportunities to further build the workforce. Helping women transition back into the workforce is vital to help fill skills shortages - and is an essential element in the Government's plan to support the WA economy. The McGowan Government is making significant investment in training, and the priorities identified in the report will help us support the sector into the future."
Early Childhood Education Minister Sabine Winton added "Early childhood educators play such a huge role in supporting our young children's development and growth. We know the benefits of good early childhood education and we can't do that without quality and dedicated early childhood educators and staff. These initiatives that our Government is putting in place will help to bolster our early childhood sector well into the future, so we can continue setting our children up for the best start in life."
Training Board Chair Jim Walker also added "A skilled and well supported early childhood education and care workforce is critical to meet childcare needs in the regions. The strategies identified in this report acknowledge the workforce challenges facing regional childcare providers and highlight the importance of access to quality local training and employment pathways. This review benefitted from the significant contributions of Community Skills WA, regional early childhood education and care sector stakeholders, including Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and regional childcare providers. The State Training Board is pleased to see that the State Government has already commenced to deliver a number of important training initiatives, including the introduction of an Early Childhood Education and Care Job Ready program. The focus on regional training solutions is a key priority identified in the Board's State Training Plan 2022-23."