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Australian Childcare Centers Looking Offshore For Staff

14 Sep 2013


Immigration News

Many Australian nanny agencies and childcare centers are being forced to recruit offshore for qualified staff as they are not able to find enough Australians for the job.

According to the official data, 775 foreign childcare center directors and preschool teachers applied to work in Australia last financial year. However, barely half of them were approved.

Now, to bring in even more migrant workers, major childcare companies are urging the new Abbott government to add less qualified nannies and childcare staff to the 457 visa program.

Guardian, one of Australia's biggest childcare chains with 75 centers nationally, is even offering to pay foreign workers more than the locals.

Tom Hardwick, Chief Executive of Guardian Early Learning Group said that many operators are ready to pay the minimum wage of $53,000 for foreigners hired on 457 visas - much more than the $44,000 minimum wage paid to locals holding diplomas.

He said that they would all obviously prefer local Australians to gain the required qualifications and fill the roles, rather than 'import' the staff from out of the country, but the essential truth is that there are not enough well-trained local workers to meet the increased qualification ratios.

The current 457 visa rules allow childcare centre directors and early childhood teachers from overseas to work in Australia for up to four years. However, their qualifications must be approved by the ACECQA (Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority).

Nannies and childcare workers with no or lower qualifications, such as a certificate or diploma, cannot get the visa.

United Voice, a childcare that is seeking a $10 per hour pay rise for staff through the Fair Work Commission, blamed ‘woefully inadequate pay’ for driving locals into better-paying jobs.

Michael Crosby, national president said that educators are leaving at the rate of 180 every week and though they love the work, they cannot afford to stay due to the inadequate pay.

An ACECQA spokeswoman said there have been amendments to its regulations to make it easier for overseas applicants to have their qualifications approved for equivalence.

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