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Additional funding announced for project to address labour shortages and retention and recruitment challenges in early childhood education

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on May 19, 2022

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

The Future Skills Centre (FSC) has announced a further investment of $1.08 million into the Early Childhood Education Lab, a project of the Pond-Deshpande Centre’s NouLAB at the University of New Brunswick, to evaluate and enhance retention and recruitment of early childhood educators in Atlantic Canada.

“We are happy to partner with the Early Childhood Education Lab to invest in a quality workforce for early childhood education growth across Canada into the future,” said Pedro Barata, executive director of the Future Skills Centre. “Through insights into innovative training methods, we can raise our ambition and commitment to helping early childhood educators be at their best in delivering the highest quality care that our children deserve."

“Ultimately, the sector is suffering from a gap between the professionalism required by contemporary early childhood education standards and the labour supply mechanisms that staff the sector.” said Amanda Hachey, co-lead of the ECE Lab. “Over the last decades, the work of caring for young children and guiding their development has professionalized and become more technically demanding to administer, evaluate, manage, and deliver. Yet the labour mechanisms – wages, benefits, hiring practices, leadership, and human resource support – have not sufficiently developed to meet the new, high level of professional work required to deliver the high standard of outcomes our regulations dictate and our children and families deserve.”

Over the past two years, the ECE Lab has been exploring challenges relating to early childhood education workforce development with teams from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The work carried out by the provincial teams – composed of early childhood educators, operators, and administrators from early learning and childcare centres, as well as representatives from professional associations, post-secondary institutions, and government – highlighted the urgent need to create a more robust framework of support for professionalization across the sector: career pathway development tools for operators and administrators, paid study leave for working educators, and new centre mentorship roles for senior-level educators.

On May 19 the ECE Lab hosted a community showcase to share the findings and announce plans for phase two of the project. In this session, lab participants shared stories of their experiences breaking down silos and developing prototype tools and programs through the lab process. Phase two of the Lab will continue this timely and essential work to uplift early childhood educators as they enable today's society to function while providing future generations with foundational education and essential care.

About the Future Skills Centre

The Future Skills Centre is a forward-thinking research and collaboration hub dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success and meeting the emerging talent needs of employers. As a pan-Canadian community, FSC brings together experts and organizations across sectors to rigorously identify, assess, and share innovative approaches to develop the skills needed to drive prosperity and inclusion. FSC is directly involved in innovation through investments in pilot projects and academic research on the future of work and skills in Canada. The Future Skills Centre is funded by the Government of Canada's Future Skills Program.

About NouLAB

NouLAB is a program of the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick and convenes the curious to co-create solutions to address our most pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges. By connecting people from across sectors, convening them around pressing issues, and facilitating their journey to deep change, NouLAB makes the change process more impactful. Designed to address challenges that affect many and which no single party or institution can solve alone, NouLAB exists to be a trusted and neutral convener of the change process for impactful systems change.

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Photo credit: Monica Lacey