Employment outcomes for ECE teaching graduates

Publication Details

This report looks at the post-study employment and earnings for ECE teaching graduates over a five year period following the completion of their qualification. The research provides information on the make-up of ECE teaching graduates, and aims to provide insights on how attractive the ECE sector may be in terms of recruiting, retaining and renumerating ECE teaching graduates.

Author(s): Temaleti Tupou and David Scott, ECE Analysis, Education Information and Analysis, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: March 2012

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One of government’s priorities is to increase opportunities for children to participate in high-quality early childhood education. One of the strategies being used to improve quality in ECE is to increase the number of ECE qualified teachers. Several government policies are in place to support this.

This report looks at employment outcomes five years post-study for a cohort of graduates who completed their ECE teaching qualification in 2003. The report aims to examine the following questions:
  1. What is the make-up of ECE teaching graduates in New Zealand?
  2. What proportion of ECE teaching graduates go on to work in ECE, and how many continue working in ECE?
  3. How much do ECE teaching graduates earn compared with other similarly qualified graduates new to the labour market?

Understanding the make-up of ECE graduates can help inform questions on demographic and cultural balances in the ECE workforce. Knowing how many ECE teacher graduates enter and remain in ECE and their relative earnings can help identify potential issues in attracting and retaining ECE graduates in the ECE sector.

Key findings

ECE teaching graduates

  • Just over 1,000 people completed an approved ECE teaching qualification in 2003; of these, 72 percent completed a diploma and 28 percent completed a bachelors degree.
  • ECE teaching graduates were much older relative to other graduates: 63 percent were aged 25 or over, compared with 14 percent for all bachelors or diploma completers in 2003.
  • A high proportion of graduates (43 percent) had previously worked in ECE; the majority of these were diploma completers aged 25 or over.
  • The two most common types of graduates were those aged under 25 with a diploma and no prior ECE work experience, and those aged 25 to 39 years old with a diploma and with previous ECE work experience. Each made up 17 percent of ECE teaching graduates in 2003.

Post-study employment in ECE

  • Eighty-five percent of the 2003 cohort of ECE teaching graduates worked in ECE in New Zealand at some point in the five years after completing their qualification. Seventy-two percent worked in ECE in the first year after completing their qualification.
  • Sixty-five percent of graduates were working in ECE five years after completing their qualification, 7 percent were working in other education sectors, 12 percent were working in other non-education sectors, and 16 percent did not earn any taxable income in the New Zealand labour market.
  • The decline in employment in the initial years after completing their qualification is consistent with the pattern of decline that occurs for young tertiary graduates in general after completing their qualification.
  • The only group where employment increased over the five-year period after study was the group of young diploma graduates (aged under 25) with no prior work experience in ECE.
  • Graduates with previous work experience in ECE were more likely than those entering the ECE workforce for the first time to be working in ECE five years after completing their qualification (74 percent compared with 57 percent). In particular, diploma graduates aged 25 and over with previous ECE work experience (27 percent of all graduates) were the most likely to still be working in ECE five years after completing (80 percent).
  • Young bachelors degree graduates (which made up 13 percent of all ECE teaching graduates) were the least likely to be working in ECE five years after completing their degree (50 percent compared with 68 percent for young diploma graduates, 68 percent for older bachelors graduates, and 65 percent for all graduates).
  • Young ECE teaching graduates were more likely than other similarly qualified young graduates to enter and remain in work in New Zealand post-study. For example, in the first year after completing their qualification, 92 percent of young ECE teaching diploma and degree graduates earned income, compared with 86 percent for all diploma and degree graduates. After five years, the rates were 77 percent and 69 percent respectively.

Post-study earnings in ECE

  • To adjust for the effects of age and work experience on earnings, this study looked at earnings only for those aged under 25, with no previous ECE work experience. They were defined as ‘young graduates’. This study was not able to look at the impact on earnings for older graduates.
  • The median annual earnings of all young ECE teaching graduates employed in ECE were lower than those of young graduates working in other education sectors. Over the five year period following graduation, the median annual earnings of young ECE graduates ranged between 82 and 89 percent of the median earnings of young graduates working in primary and secondary education industries. This difference did not change significantly over the five years of post-study employment covered by this study (April 2004 to March 2009). Five years after graduation, the annual median earnings of all young ECE graduates (diploma and bachelors combined) were 86 percent and 85 percent of those of young graduates working in primary and secondary schools respectively.
  • Over all industries (education and non-education), the annual median earnings of young ECE teaching diploma graduates were higher than those of other young diploma graduates, nearly 25 percent after five years. However, the annual median earnings of young ECE teaching bachelors graduates remained on average about 5 to 10 percent lower than those of young bachelors graduates as a whole over the five year period following graduation.
  • The annual median earnings of young ECE bachelors graduates working in ECE were initially around 40 percent higher than those with an ECE teaching diploma. However, the earnings of young ECE diploma graduates increased at a faster rate. After five years, the annual median earnings for a young ECE diploma graduate working in ECE were just 2 percent less than those of a young ECE bachelors graduate.
  • While pay parity policy changes between ECE teachers and those in schools had been introduced progressively over the period covered in this study, the lower earnings of ECE graduates in this study is, in part, likely to reflect the fact that these changes did not cover the whole ECE sector. The results in this study are also not able to be adjusted for any differences in hours worked. The extent to which teachers in ECE are more likely than primary and secondary teachers  to be in part-time employment is also likely to impact on comparisons of annual earnings.

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