||Issue No. 325||22 September 2006|
A Values Call
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Aussie Values DOA
It’s Not Cricket
Kim’s New Platforms
Reaping What You Sow
Roll Out the Tanks
Latest Import: Childcare Workers
But importing workers won't address the root cause of staff recruitment and retention problems in the childcare industry - low pay - and could exacerbate the situation.
Low pay rates and poor working conditions are the real reasons behind the high turnover of staff in childcare centres, says Sue Bellino of the LHMU Childcare Union.
"It may be the case that bringing in workers from overseas will drive wages down even further," she says.
Fixing the skills shortages in childcare requires significant investment in training, funding for more places in areas of high demand and wage increases that adequately reward training and hard work, says Bellino.
"There's always been a workforce here, but people want to work and earn a decent wage."
The ACTU has slammed the proposal, saying importing childcare workers would reduce the already limited career advancement opportunities for Australians.
Childcare co-ordinators have joined 35 other trades and professions, including tilers, pastry cooks and engineers, on the 'Migration Occupations in Demand List', making people with skills in those areas eligible for skilled migrant visas.
The construction industry has enthusiastically embraced the skilled visa program. But rather than filling genuine skills gaps, employers in the building game have exploited the scheme to import cheap workers who are often forced to work in unsafe and substandard conditions.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley has branded the inclusion of childcare workers on the skilled migration list a disgrace, and has committed Labor to paying the education costs for childcare students as a means of addressing the skills shortage.
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