Australia’s largest not for profit early learning and care provider has agreed to increase teachers wages by 10% - with some receiving even larger increases - to match rates paid in schools.
The increase is in response to teachers leaving early learning centres for higher paid jobs in schools.
Goodstart will also increase wages for qualified educators with rates to be set at 3-5% above the award rate that applied in the rest of the sector.
Goodstart Early Learning CEO Julia Davison said the new wage rates recognise the vital role that early childhood teachers and educators play in child development.
“Great teachers and educators are absolutely crucial to providing quality early learning and the benefits that delivers for child development.
“We want to be able to pay more teachers and educators more because of the value of the work they do. From July 1, we will match the starting salaries offered to teachers in state schools, and also offer our educators rates 3-5% above award rates,” she said.
Vacancies across the early learning and child care sector have jumped to record levels, with 4600 vacancies across Australia in May, up 70% on pre-COVID levels.
Ms Davison said better wages and conditions were crucial to attracting and retaining qualified staff in early learning and child care.
“Our educators provided an essential service that governments required to stay open right through the worst of the COVID lockdowns,” she said.
“It has been a stressful time for our people, and attrition rates have risen as a result.
“Yet early childhood offers careers for people that are rewarding both financially and personally, where educators make a huge difference in little people’s lives.
“Children are at the heart of everything we do, and we aspire to being a very friendly employer. As well as offering generous child care discounts to our people, we will now offer paid parental leave and promote best practice flexible working arrangements.
“We want to offer our educators the opportunity to be the best that they can be, and are increasing time out of the room to help them plan their lessons as well as enhancing our extensive professional development and learning programs.
“And we will do that while keeping our fee increase below the long-term sector average. We’d like to be able to do more, but we can only do so much without fees becoming unaffordable for families,” she said.
Goodstart employs more than 1500 qualified teachers and 13,000 qualified educators, caring for 70,000 children in 670 centres across Australia.
Over 98% of the workforce is female, and around a third of Goodstart educators also have their children attending a Goodstart centre.