According to ABS, 30% of all Australians were born overseas, and about 20% of the population speak a language other than English at home. Migration is a positive driver in the population growth of Australia, with Asian countries like China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka in the top 10 countries of origin. This opens a lot of new opportunities for bilingual and bicultural workers, especially in the Childcare education industry.
Why does the Australian Childcare sector demand skilled care workers with bilingual and bicultural capabilities?
Victoria is one of the most multicultural societies in the world. There are ongoing challenges experienced by people from refugee and migrant backgrounds when they settle in Victoria and try to navigate new and unfamiliar systems. The situation has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic. The lockdown has made early childhood education services inaccessible for a lot of families, especially those with culturally diverse backgrounds. Now we are moving into Covid normal, government continue funding the early childhood sector, the industry is expected to grow by 7% per annum, leading to an increase in demand for workers in the foreseeable future. The State of Victoria alone already has approximately 50,000 workers in childcare education, and it needs an additional 6,000 workers in the industry.
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There are many benefits to employing bilingual and bicultural workers in early childhood education services.
From society and the government’s point of view, it supports multiculturalism. The Victorian Government’s Multicultural Policy Statement, Victorian, includes an action item of ‘[f]unding bilingual workers to support the participation of children from culturally diverse backgrounds in supported playgroups and kindergartens. This is part of a broader aim for early childhood services and schools to build acceptance and understanding of diversity.
From a community perspective, bilingual and bicultural care workers can engage in the form of trusting relationships with Victoria’s culturally diverse communities. The early childhood workforce is responsive to the needs of culturally diverse communities and can better engage with culturally diverse families and their children.
Children, can better understand cultural diversity and have a significant impact on shaping the learning and development of children in their early years. There are particular demands to provide additional support to some cohorts of children, including those from migrant backgrounds. This might be supporting children to participate and feel comfortable in services. This creates a need for different specialist workers to cater to children’s specific needs and results in demand for inclusion support staff, such as bicultural workers.
More than ever, the early childhood education services need workers who can engage and form trusting relationships with Victoria’s culturally diverse communities. Many organisations seek to employ staff members who are able to build connections with communities beyond language.
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There is a need to expand the number of bicultural and bilingual workers in the sector, given their key role in bridging the gap between families and service providers. There are opportunities to grow the bicultural and bilingual workforce in rural and regional areas of Victoria, with the increasing settlement of culturally diverse communities in those areas.
One of the key barriers to entry into the workforce for culturally diverse communities is attaining the requisite Australian qualifications and accessing ongoing mentoring and support.
Interested in establishing a career in early childhood education? Global Business College of Australia (GBCA) gives you the opportunity to become a bilingual and bicultural early childhood educator with its Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) program. These programs are available for both international and domestic students and can be finished between 52 weeks (for Certificate III) and 76 weeks. See this link for more details.
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