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  • Sam Davis

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    More than child's play

    Cairns childhood educators say they're crying out for more people to enter their profession - men included.

    Lee-Anne Boor has spent her entire career nurturing young minds across Australia.

    “It’s such an important job,” the Cairns Cubby Care director says.

    “Early childhood educators understand developmental milestones.

    “Sometimes in early childhood we’re the first people to identify red flags in development. That’s really important.

    “It is a profession of love ... you have to love and be passionate about what you do.”

    But finding the right staff in regional Queensland can be challenging.

    A Queensland Government report has identified vacancy rates for early childhood teachers of 44 per cent in regional areas.

    CQ University Pro Vice-Chancellor Peter Heilbuth says the profession has been ‘undersold’ to prospective employees in the past.

    “Pay has been increasing,” Mr Heilbuth says.

    “Generally the benefits of a vocational education role don’t get out there. People think you have to become a lawyer or doctor.

    “But teaching can be very rewarding too.”

    Improving the qualifications of early childhood educators significantly benefits children, Ms Boor says.

    “It raises our standards. You can see the difference in how children engage with each other and the teacher,” she says.

    “A lot of people apply for our jobs but are they at the quality we want? That’s what it comes back to for us.

    “We expect a certain quality of care and that’s a big concern for the profession in general.”

    More men would be welcome too.

    “I think I’ve worked with three, maybe four men in 23 years,” Ms Boor says.

    “It’s pretty poor, isn’t it? We’re definitely lacking men.

    “It would be nice, particularly for children who may be spending five days a week at a service to have a male figure.”

    CQUniversity offers a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care for Cairns-based students.

    “Our students can qualify for settings including Long Day Care, School Aged Care, Family Day Care and Kindergartens while progressing from certificate to diploma to bachelor studies and beyond,” Mr Heilbuth says.