Childcare workers ‘can’t even change nappies’

CHILDCARE workers who can't change a nappy and struggle with English are graduating from dodgy training courses, angry daycare operators have warned.

As many parents pay more than $100 a day for childcare, the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) has revealed that many "qualified" staff lack the basic knowledge of child safety, food safety or hygiene.

The federal government training regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), yesterday revealed it had banned 19 training colleges from offering childcare courses after 105 audits last year.

The ACA, representing private centres, has warned of a "critical shortage of qualified candidates who are adequately skilled and job-ready".

In a survey of daycare operators, 60 per cent complained that graduates lack the skills to care for children, despite studying six months for a Certificate III or two years for a diploma in childcare.

One in three bosses with complaints found that graduates did not have the skills to change a nappy.

Two-thirds said diploma graduates lacked English language skills, one-third said staff were not properly trained in child safety and 29 per cent said workers did not know about safe sleeping positions for babies and toddlers.

"The ability to speak and write in fluent English was noted as a huge concern, with many ACA members complaining that Cert III and diploma-qualified candidates are often lacking this basic skill,'' the ACA told the Productivity Commission inquiry into workforce skills.

"Upon completion of their study, students are not at a quality level that meets employer expectations."

A lack of skilled childcare workers is causing a crisis in the industry.
A lack of skilled childcare workers is causing a crisis in the industry.

The ACA is demanding a crackdown on training colleges, claiming that "some providers are allowed to deliver substandard qualifications".

ACA president Paul Mondo said many daycare centres were forced to retrain qualified staff who had not been properly taught to care for children.

He said it was vital childcare workers speak and read English to communicate with children, families and colleagues and follow safety instructions.

"They need to be able to communicate effectively with families, and have the literacy skills to read medicine labels," he said yesterday.

"Language is vital to ensure compliance for the health and safety of children."

Mr Mondo said some graduates used a loophole to do their required work experience in family daycare, instead of a long daycare centre.

"The challenge we find is that you can hold a diploma or a Certificate III in childhood education and care, and not have completed a (practical) placement in-house in a long daycare centre," he said.

"They can do a placement in family daycare, but there are far more checks and balances in a long daycare centre."


Australian Childcare Alliance boss Paul Mondo.
Australian Childcare Alliance boss Paul Mondo.


The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has granted staffing waivers to 8.4 per cent of childcare centres nationally, and 5.6 per cent in Queensland, so they can operate without the required number of qualified workers.

An ACECQA spokeswoman yesterday said daycare centres were required to employ staff with nationally approved qualifications and "the appropriate skill set".

"If employers are concerned with the quality of students graduating from certain (training organisations) they should advise the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority,'' a spokeswoman said.

ASQA yesterday said its review of childcare training organisations in 2015 had found that some training courses were too short and that work experience and assessment on the job was "not done well".

"ASQA does not have any role in the development of training packages or the qualifications they include," a spokesman said.

"Nineteen (training organisations) offering at least one childcare qualification were cancelled in 2019. The childcare qualification may not have been the cause of cancellation."

The spokesman said courses had to provide 120 hours of on-the-job experience.

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