What is the more valuable job, working in retail as a shop assistant or being an educator for young children after completing a four year university degree?
They are both valuable. But, if you’re working in a shop on a Sunday – for example – you can earn double the amount of an early childhood educator working on a Monday, in one of the lowest paid professions in Australia, despite their high level of qualification.
That is why, in recognition that early childhood educators are grossly underpaid, the Australian Labor Party announced that, if they win at the Federal election on May 18, their Government would increase their remuneration by 20 per cent over an eight year period.
This would mean an estimated increase of $11,300 to their annual income.
So in light of this, we are taking a look at what exactly early childhood educators are paid as it stands, and why it is that they have been so under valued.
How much exactly are early childhood educators paid?
For early childhood educators who have earned themselves a Certificate III qualification, their base rate is a mere $22 an hour on casual rates.
For comparison, the average casual rate of a retail worker in Australia is $20 an hour, according to Payscale. Add to this weekend rates, and there is little difference between the two in terms of pay.
For early childhood educators, their pay can increase with qualification, but the income remains demonstrably low considering it is a professional sector.
In fact, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten shared this week that out of 96 professional sectors in Australia, early childhood education is the 92nd lowest paid profession.
Brianna is a 28-year-old woman from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales who worked in the profession for five years (she has since left), and shared with Mamamia the she started out as a casual after she gained her Certificate III qualification, which paid $24.55 an hour.