A new Productivity Commission report on Australia’s childcare sector has shone a light on opportunities for start-ups to fill much-needed gaps in the industry.
The Early Childhood Development Workforce report looks at the likely impact of government changes to early childhood education and care.
Changes include increasing qualification requirements and lowering child-to-carer ratios, both of which could open up opportunities for entrepreneurs.
From next year, Australian childcare centres will be required to have one employee per four babies. From 2016, they will be required to have one employee for every five children between 25 and 35 months, and one worker for every 11 older children.
According to the report, the reforms will have “far-reaching implications” for the early childhood education and care workforce, which covers long day care centres and family day care.
The report says the reforms will require more workers, who will be paid more to reflect higher education and training levels.
“The increase in demand for qualified early childhood education and care workers… will require a significant increase in training, particularly from the vocational education and training sector,” the report says.
“[Meanwhile,] the development of integrated early childhood development centres provides new opportunities for improved service delivery.”
According to Aussie Childcare Network, the sector has experienced a huge surge in demand in recent years, putting pressure on workers to improve their qualifications.
“We have now seen it grow as part of the community and become a real necessity with today’s working parents in Australia,” it says.
“In doing so, childcare has now reached a high quality standard with the label of ‘childcare workers’ being transformed into ‘childcare professionals’.”
Angela MacRae, presiding commissioner of the report, says the supply of suitably qualified workers is likely to “take some time to respond”.
“The sector already suffers from difficulties in attracting and retaining employees, and existing workforce strategies that focus on the availability and affordability of training will not be adequate to stimulate supply sufficiently to meet demand – particularly in the short term, and particularly for hard-to-staff positions,” she says.
The findings suggest there is an opportunity for start-ups to fill training gaps or provide other services within the sector, which is tipped to continue growing as Australian parents become increasingly time-poor.
A recent report by Franchise Business Review, which surveyed 752 child-focused franchisees, found parents continue to seek new options to stimulate and educate their children.
“Be it through daycare or after-school programs, toy stores or special events – it’s safe to say there will always be… opportunities within this sector,” the report states.