State of Staffing Survey: How Z Staffing can help you remain in ratio

Written by Z Staffing


It is no surprise to childcare educators and centre operators that there are critical staffing shortages across the childcare sector in Australia. Z Staffing recently conducted groundbreaking research in our State of Staffing Survey, revealing critical industry insights into how severely impacted services have been by these shortages. In this article, we will address the impact of staff shortages, share the insights of our State of Staffing Survey, and discuss how Z Staffing can help you navigate staffing challenges and best support you.


The cumulative effects of childcare staff shortages

The labour shortages across the childcare industry are having cumulative effects across all centres. Late last year, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) reported that nearly 10% of national childcare services required a staffing waiver to remain open. The same body also reported that, due to staffing shortages, there was a sharp increase in instances of inadequate supervision and the failure to protect children from harm and hazards. A recent ABC interview with a former educator reported that the pressure of caring for more children than the ratio allowed was one of the factors that caused stress and eventually made her leave the industry for good. It is no doubt that labour shortages are causing strain across all areas of the early education sector.


Exclusive insights from Z Staffing’s State of Staffing Survey 

In February 2024, Z Staffing completed an exclusive survey on the State of Staffing across the Early Childhood Education and Care sector. A first of its kind, our aim was to identify the primary staffing challenges faced by childcare centres in order to find practical ways to support these services and help them overcome staffing challenges. Over 198 childcare centres responded, giving us broad-reaching data that provides a clear reflection of the wider industry. 


Our survey uncovered the largest challenges faced by childcare centres during this period of unprecedented demand for educators:

  • An overwhelming 95% of our respondents feel stress or extreme stress when dealing with staffing challenges. Industry-wide shortages in the sector contribute to these feelings of stress, with almost 40% of respondents expecting hurdles with filling permanent positions, while a further 70% anticipate difficulties in securing full-time staff in 2024.

  • The difficulty of staffing arrangements in the early education industry cannot be overstated. Over 38% of survey respondents reported being forced to close rooms or withhold enrolments due to the pressures of staffing shortages.

  • A trend emerging from the survey data has found that casual staff are a major solution to managing these staffing issues. An incredible 90% of centres surveyed used casual staff from agencies and casual pools over the past year. 

  • Major concerns are arising from childcare centres regarding their budgets. This year’s third-largest concern reported by participants involved maintaining staffing budgets. This is no surprise when we can see that in 2023, over 60% of respondents reported that their staffing costs were over budget or well-over budget, mainly due to the rising labour costs and the constant fight for staff retention.

  • The major anticipated challenge for this year, as reported by almost 50% of all participants, involves filling staffing gaps to remain in ratio and staff maintaining the quality of care at their centres. With staffing shortages and difficulties in retaining permanent educators, it is definitely an expected challenge to keep the consistency and quality of care at the high levels that the families are used to.


The exclusive data uncovered in our State of Staffing survey highlights the real and complex challenges that childcare centres across Australia are facing. Z Staffing uniquely understands the difficulties of early childhood staffing and are committed to working with you to solve the unique problems you are facing in this space.


Best practices for attracting & retaining permanent staff

As labour shortages challenge the sector, we understand how many centres are working hard to ensure permanent staff stability. There are several strategies that you can implement to help attract top educators to your centre and to retain current staff in this competitive market:

  • Make your centre stand out — When it comes to standing out as a childcare centre, branding is key. Focus on ways to promote your centre’s culture for both the staff and children in your care. Showcase your teaching methods, environment, and educator experience to make your centre feel like a vibrant place to work. Utilising your online presence is a great way to do this.

  • Strategic recruitment — Recruiting permanent staff needs to be strategic to be effective. Using a mixture of channels, including partnerships with educational institutions and sector-specific resources, can help increase your rate of success. Enhancing your internal referral programs is another strategy that can assist in attracting permanent staff who can integrate with your team.

  • Enhancing your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) — Improving your EVP is critical at a time when permanent educators are such a sought-after commodity. Educators can be more selective about their workplaces and will choose a place with a supportive work environment. EVPs include compensation, career progression opportunities, feedback mechanisms, recognition programs, and more. 

  • Innovative hiring practices — To get a true feeling of whether a potential educator is a good fit for your centre, you must go beyond simple interviews. Allowing candidates to demonstrate their skills on the job can assist you in understanding their performance and seeing if they are a good fit for your team's culture. This lets you and the candidate understand how you will work together and can help ensure their retention.

Partnering with Z Staffing: A strategic move to manage casual educators

Z Staffing emerges as a strategic partner, for childcare centres facing labour shortages and the complexities of integrating casual staff.

Our platform is thoughtfully designed to simplify the hiring process, significantly easing the operational load on your centre.

With an impressive 9/10 shift fill rate, we promptly address your staffing requirements while maintaining strict adherence to educator-to-child ratios, without compromising the quality of educators or increasing costs.

Each educator in our network is subject to thorough vetting, ensuring they meet our stringent standards for qualifications and professionalism. This guarantees compliance and significantly enhances your centre's learning environment, improving the overall quality of childcare.

Our cutting-edge technology revolutionises the matching process, precisely aligning your centre’s specific needs with the ideal casual staff. This guarantees a perfect match with your centre’s ethos and values, while our Z Dashboard provides valuable, real-time insights into your staffing budget.

The reliability of having dependable, top-tier educators available promptly ensures your centre operates smoothly, meeting the dynamic needs of childcare. The efficiency of our platform, combined with our support team’s commitment, enables you to quickly adapt to staffing changes, alleviating stress and financial pressures. This allows you to dedicate your focus to what's most important—delivering outstanding childcare.

Choose Z Staffing as your childcare partner

We understand the intricate balance of incorporating casual staff while striving for permanent staff stability. That's precisely why we tailor our staffing solutions to align with your centre's objectives, ensuring we meet your immediate requirements while supporting your long-term goals. Our advanced technology and strategic approach are designed to simplify recruitment, boost retention, and enhance operational efficiency, establishing us as a true partner in your success. Together, we can elevate the quality of your childcare by easing your staffing challenges, filling staffing gaps and transitioning temporary roles into permanent solutions when feasible, all while maintaining the high standard of care your centre is known for. Contact us today or download the Z App to discover the advantages of partnering with Z Staffing for your services.

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About Z Staffing

When running or managing a childcare centre, you must ensure you have the correct amount of childcare educators to children to remain in ratio. With industry-wide worker shortages, planned holidays by permanent workers, and sudden staffing issues due to sick leave, it can be a challenge to ensure you have enough staff available.

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