As Australia seeks to rebuild its economy, we need to capitalise on the productivity of our entire workforce by minimising barriers to workforce participation.
Increasing women’s workforce participation is one of Australia’s biggest economic opportunities – and making early childhood education and care more affordable is the single best policy lever to do that.
Without change, Australia will continue to squander the investment in, and productivity of, more than half its highly educated, well trained and very experienced workforce. As we rebuild, we simply cannot afford to leave good talent on the sidelines.
Available, affordable, flexible, quality childcare is a crucial enabler for workforce participation right across the income scale. Yet an unintended consequence of the old Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is that while primary carers are supported in taking up part-time work, they face high barriers to stepping into full-time work.
Women who are re-entering the workforce, seeking work, considering increasing their hours or days of work, or taking on a second job, need to be able to make this choice quickly, knowing their household will be better off financially. Every worker who is offered a job should be able to take up that job. Every worker who is offered a shift should be able to take up that shift. And every worker who is offered a few extra hours of work should have an incentive to work those extra hours.
Over the last few weeks, it has been inspiring to come together with CEW members and leading cross-sectoral partners – economists, academics and sector representatives – to collaborate to chart a course for the reform and investment needed for our nation to unlock our full participation and productivity.
CEW will continue working with our members and the Government over the coming months towards the October budget to develop an amended system to deliver accessible, flexible, quality early childhood education and care as a key enabler of workforce participation.
Importance of childcare for productivity and economic growth, Download more information.
The following statement outlines CEW’s recommended approach.