Industry calls for urgent action on ECE teacher shortage

14 June 2021

The Early Childhood Council is calling on the government to pull two levers to help early learning centres make it through the ongoing teacher shortage.

Community and privately owned centres are locked in a constant fight to attract qualified teachers due to the severe shortage available, and retain them under high competition for talent, and the wages required to live in places like Auckland or the Bay of Plenty.

“There’s no cavalry of trained teachers on the horizon. The opportunity through the pandemic to train more teachers is being missed, with the University of Auckland reportedly cancelling their ECE teaching programme due to a lack of enrollments.”

“Meanwhile, centres are shelling out for recruitment and relief teacher fees hand over fist, hammering their bottom line. They need urgent action now,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

Two actions that can be put in place quickly to make a real difference to centres are:

Bringing back 60 Discretionary Hours per funding period is a common sense way to relieve the pressure around meeting teaching quotas and retaining funding bands, with winter sick leave fast becoming an issue

Allowing a quota of early learning teachers to get through the border - scores of teachers who’ve accepted roles with New Zealand centres are stuck overseas with their lives on hold now and could be brought in fast, with the appropriate safety protocols in place

“There are other ideas that can be brought to the table to relieve pressure and ensure children and their families continue to enjoy access to the early childhood education of their choice. The pandemic has shown early learning’s vital role in enabling the economy to recover, by allowing parents to get back to work. It’s fair to return the favour to centres now as this teacher shortage crisis rumbles on,” said Mr Reynolds.

“We welcome any support the Ministry can offer, and welcome the recent positive response from Ministry officials to discuss these and other ideas to relieve the pressure on centres.”

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