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ECE Managers’ Pay Lagging Behind, Thanks To Pay Parity Policies

A comprehensive survey of early learning sector wages shows Pay Parity is having a positive effect overall on average ECE teacher pay, but reveals the diminishing gap between pay for teachers and managers is ringing alarm bells.

The Early Childhood Council Wages & Salaries Survey 2023 showed that overall, certificated early learning teacher wages have increased 9.8% over the last year, and those with over ten years’ experience increased by over 12%.

Uncertificated teacher wage rises of 5.3% were below inflation of 5.6% during the survey period. A large number of employees are paid at minimum wage, with the increases this year not matched by government funding increases.

“This survey shows the effects of Extended Pay Parity on the teacher workforce, which are leading to disparities in other roles in centres that aren’t government funded. We’re seeing major disruptions and distortions occurring, which will get more significant over time,” said ECC CEO Simon Laube.

“A closer look at the early learning workforce structure overall is needed. Pay Parity’s focus on teachers alone is starting to cause new problems. There’s no doubt teachers are vital, but not at the expense of everyone else.”

Centre manager wages rose by an average of 7.5% in the survey period, but lags behind the 9.8% average increase for senior teachers – the narrowing gap between the most experienced teachers and the managers that employ them means there’s no incentive to take the step into management. Managers without teaching qualifications are considered unqualified, even if they have top management qualifications.

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“We could lose a generation of future ECE leaders if we don’t address the problem. Senior teachers could be forgiven for taking the increased wages in their current roles after so many years of low pay, but these are just the people we need to take the next step into leadership and management,” said Simon Laube.

The ECC surveys the Education & Care sector on salaries and wages annually, and is the largest survey of its kind in New Zealand.

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