Early Educators vote with their feet: Half ready to leave

Early Educators vote with their feet: Half ready to leave

Almost 50 per cent of early childhood educators say they will leave the sector within a year if there is no meaningful movement on their wages in the next three months.

The findings of a snap poll of 500 educators show the impact of staffing shortages and high workloads, with 84 per cent of educators saying staff have left their centre in the last year due to burnout.

The poll, conducted by the United Workers Union, aimed to gauge the sentiments of early educators in the face of ongoing challenges ahead of the shutdown of the sector on March 8.

Key findings include:

  • 48 per cent of educators say they will leave their jobs within a year if the Federal Government does not meaningfully address wages in the sector in the short term.
  • Staffing shortages impacting quality of care: ALL respondents said staffing shortages in early education are impacting the quality of care and education children receive.
  • Staff attrition due to stress: 84% of respondents reported instances where staff left their centre in the past 12 months due to stress and burnout.
  • Impact on wellbeing and safety: 94% of respondents admitted that in the past 12 months their wellbeing or safety had been compromised as a result of stress and burnout, including reactions such as crying, panic attacks and medical issues.
  • Forced actions due to staff attrition: Respondents indicated high workloads and a lack of staff have forced them to take drastic measures including:
    • Moving children between rooms to ensure educator-to-child ratios.
    • Closing rooms due to a lack of educators.
    • Taking work home to keep up with programming.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Early Education Director, United Workers Union:

“These findings show remaining educators have had enough – if things don’t change half of them want to go in the next 12 months.

“There is an urgent need for immediate action to address the workforce crisis in the early education sector. Educators are being forced to make the hard choice between the job they are so dedicated to, or leaving to find a job that can pay their bills.

“The Federal Government as the primary funder of early learning still hasn’t given educators any certainty, with no commitment to increase wages in the sector.

“As we approach International Women’s Day on March 8th, it is paramount that these workers’ voices are heard because without educators, Australia would stop.”

Comments from early childhood educators:

“We are losing amazing, skilled, experienced educators and our children are losing. Spirits are low, motivation is sinking and so is quality.”

“I am tired of being taken advantage of, being underpaid, overworked and undervalued.”

“We’re so essential to society but I worry people won’t see it until it’s too late.”

* The poll was conducted between February 16 and February 20. N = 500 drawn from United Workers Union early educators.


Media Contact: 1300 898 633, media@unitedworkers.org.au

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