March 14, 2023

A Minns Labor Government will invest $22 million to turbocharge the early childhood workforce with new scholarships, professional development and research into improving early childhood learning outcomes.

 Labor’s plan will help address workforce shortages and help prepare the early childhood sector for universal preschool - two key Labor priorities to improve declining outcomes. 

 Labor has already committed to build 100 public preschools in our first term of government to help achieve universal preschool education access. Today’s announcement will ensure that NSW has a world-class workforce for those new preschools and other childcare settings. 

 Under the Liberals: NSW kids falling behind

 Research from the Productivity Commission shows that NSW childcare staff hold less qualifications than other states. Forty-five per cent of NSW primary contact childcare staff have a Diploma or higher qualification - below the national average (50 per cent) and significantly below Victoria (62 per cent). 

 Meanwhile, NSW children’s education outcomes are on the decline. OECD international comparisons show that NSW children have dropped from third to 23rd in the world in science, 6th to 23rd in reading and 9th to 31st when it comes to maths.

 Under the Liberals, worsening staff shortages across early education services will see universal preschool become yet another empty promise and workforce shortages continue.

 The Liberals are failing to attract and retain staff in the NSW early childhood sector, meaning childcare services are already being forced to close or scale down. 

Labor will create a world-class workforce for our children

NSW Labor will prioritise upskilling our early childhood workforce, maintaining and expanding existing services, and encouraging workers to pursue a long-term career in early education. 

 The funding will go towards:

 Investing $9 million in scholarships - up to $25,000 scholarships for early childhood workers to upskill to both bachelor degrees and diplomas. Under the program, students will be able to stay in the workforce while they learn, and receive financial support to assist with course fees, study materials and other expenses.  

Launching a $10 million Professional Development Fund - offering paid professional development leave to early childhood workforce, regardless of qualification. This will tackle increasing burnout and staff retention challenges. The Fund will complement national efforts to address this issue, as outlined in the Federal Government’s Shaping our Future strategy.  

Funding Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Research - with $3 million for a new study into childhood delivery models, to improve the availability and efficacy of early childhood education. The research will include a focus on a strong workforce pipeline, to deliver early learning now and into the future for NSW. 

A real plan for early learning

 This announcement build’s on Labor’s commitments to boost early childhood education in NSW. This includes creating 100 new public preschools co-located with government primary schools and 50 new and upgraded preschools co-located at non-government schools, within the first term of a Minns Labor government. 

 With Labor, every new public primary school will be built with a co-located preschool. And Labor will also build preschools at existing underutilised schools.